The Member of Parliament for Skeena Bulkley Valley, Nathan Cullen had a fiery debate Friday, Feb. 17. 2012, in Prince Rupert with the Northern Gateway Joint Review panel over a subject that has been vexing the panel since the first day of hearings at Kitamaat Village, the exact definition of what constitutes personal or traditional knowledge in this round which the panel calls “Community Hearings.”
This is an edited transcript of the proceedings where Cullen was testifying.
Chair Sheila Leggett repeated at the opening on Friday:
So as I’ve stated, we’re here today to listen to the oral evidence from
intervenors that have previously registered with the Panel. Oral evidence is only
that information which is relevant to the matters the Panel will be considering and
cannot be presented as written evidence.
In order to assist parties regarding the types of information that
intervenors may provide as oral evidence during the community hearings, the
Panel issued Procedural Direction Number 4.
Parties will not be able to provide information orally here that could be
provided in writing or at a later stage in the process. This would include
information such as technical information, questions to the Applicant, or
argument and opinion on the decisions you would like the Panel to make. This is
not what we are here to listen to today.
Sharing your traditional knowledge and your personal knowledge and
experiences on the impacts that the proposed project may have on you and your
community, and how any impacts could be eliminated or reduced, is of great help
to us. This is the type of information we’re here to listen to today. We appreciate
Nathan Cullen then began his testimony, with an acknowledgment that it was taking place on the traditional territory of the Tsimshian Nation
Cullen. I think it does the entire process a level of respect that is actually quite
indicative of how we, in the Northwest, like to treat visitors, with respect and
understanding and an open heart. I also thank the Metlakatla Nation for allowing
me to switch times with them to make this available — I’m a little preoccup ied
with some other endeavors right now.
I think in the best tradition of Justice Berger, this Panel is attempting to
establish a balance between traditional knowledge, rights and title and the laws of
this land, and the importance of hearing oral testimony and oral evidence and
giving it the weight and circumstance that we do to technical briefings and to
other sources that upon which you will make your decision.
And let me say that I have no envy for you in the chairs that you are in.
This is an incredibly complicated matter. It weaves together many of the most
fundamental factors and decisions that exist within any nation and potentially has
an impact on many people, both here in the Northwest of British Columbia but
right across Canada and perhaps around the world.
I will also, as I’ve expressed to you privately, Panel, do my level best to
adhere to Procedural Direction Number 4 and follow in the guidelines that you’ve
set forth. It’s somewhat out of practice for serving politician to find themselves
restricted in particular ways when we are speaking but it’s good practice anyways.
Let me say that politics is my vocation, a calling, and politics ultimately at
its best is about story. It is about collecting the stories of people that we seek to
represent and then relaying those stories to a broader audience.
I see that my testimony here today is certainly on my behalf as an
independent Canadian citizen, as a resident of the Northwest, but also on behalf of
many people who either can’t speak or are intimidated by the process to be here,
who have relayed many of their concerns and thoughts and hopes through me to
This is about telling our story. This proposal of a pipeline and the super
tankers that are connected to it asks us to ask questions of ourselves, as a people,
as region, and as a country. And I believe, fundamentally, if I attempt to
summarize where the concerns lay, it is a question of trust. And I will break that
down into four particular segments because I think there are elements in this
question that are important for you to consider.
First and foremost is trust of this particular company. They are the one
making the proposal through you to the Canadian Government and through you to
the people that I represent here in the Northwest. Can the company be trusted?
Has the company’s record in the past shown it to be worthy of trust? I think this
is also a technical question, although I won’t — I will refer away from the
technical aspects of trust of pipelines themselves and of the capacity to keep them
safe and of the tankers that are associated to this project in the particular area that
we are talking about, and can we trust that that will also be safe?
In some ways, this very process is the third area of trust. Can the people
that I represent trust what’s happening here? Is it as you said in your introduction,
Chairwoman — and I think it’s accurate — as established as an independent arm ofgovernment? Is it free in the way that we have designed it to come to a decision and is that decision going to be respected? That is a question that many of the people that I represent — that is a question that I ask.
And, lastly, and perhaps most fundamentally, the question of trust of the
Federal Government, the Government of Canada to honour the commitments that
they make in law and by statute, that will be actually be adhered to.
And I think as we watch the current government in action, there is a
certain amount of mistrust over the particular issue of energy and over the
particular industry of oil; that many of my constituents feel that there is not a level
playing in the conversation; that they feel that perhaps we are an afterthought to
the interests of the oil sector and that we should have a respect for a fundamental
idea as Canadians; that we live in a democratic society and that the government of
the day goes well beyond its mandate and its ethics to attempt to bully or silence
Canadians when they seek to raise their voice at Panels like this or anywhere else
across the country.
Let me start first with the companies and I will relate my personal
experience because I think that’s what you’re seeking.
It’s been a number of years since I’ve been dealing with Enbridge. This is
not new to me, this is a company that I have been dealing with for quite some
time and, upon their invitation, met them some years ago — Chairman, I think you
may have that —
Sheila Leggett interrupts and says:: Mr. Cullen, I just want to make sure that we
were going to be — you were going to be talking to us about your personal
knowledge and experience about the potential effects of the project.
Leggett. THE CHAIRPERSON: Terrific.
Cullen: Absolutely. Allow me to relate –
Leggett: On you or your community.
Cullen That’s right.
Leggett: Thank you.
Cullen: So allow me to relate to this. So my first personal interaction with the company outside of some emails and some telephone calls, was a meeting that was held in Vancouver talking about how the company would interact with my community and what the effects would be of that interaction.
And the first thing that the company wanted me to know was that they had
been able to successfully raise a $100 million in the effort to promote this project;
a $100 million that was received in $10 million allotments that was from
I asked who is behind that and they neglected to reveal that, which is fine.
Since that meeting a number of years ago, we do know now who some of those
companies are. The reason this is relevant is that we have been unable to
encounter any project in Canadian or U.S. history that has had that type of money
and support behind just the promotion and engagement of citizens. It’s an
extraordinary amount of money and that money bares influence and it can’t be
I thought it was an extraordinary claim for them to make, to be the first
thing that I should know, and it led to the second conversation; this is relevant to
your intervention that I sought with Enbridge to conduct community forums to
inform people as to the risks and benefits as perceived by both the Proponent and
opponent of the project. I thought that was a worthwhile role for a Member of
Parliament to play to facilitate that engagement.
I had not taken any public stand on the project. I had not made any public
utterances and thought my best engagement is what you’re essentially attempting
to do right here, which is to find out the various views about moving raw bitumen
1,100 kilometres in a 36-inch pipe and a corresponding pipe coming from the
coast into the interior.
For more than 18 months that conversation went on and on and on, to the
point where I realized that it was never going to happen, that the company had notentered into good-faith negotiations with me and felt that by being in those negotiations I was unable to declare myself publicly one way or the other.
I now turn to my experience with the Gitxsan Nation —
After Cullen’s statement about the lack of good faith negotiations, Laura Estep, one of the lawyers for the Enbridge Northern Gateway objected.
We would like to express an objection to this presentation. We believe that it is argument. It is argumentative. It is a political agenda. This is nothing more than a political speech and we object on that basis.
Mr. Cullen has been directed on numerous occasions, in writing and
otherwise, by the Panel as to what constitutes appropriate oral evidence. We’ve
been listening this morning and have yet to hear that.
I don’t think it’s appropriate to continue waiting for something appropriate
to be provided in terms of oral evidence. It’s not oral evidence what he’s been
giving so far.
At this point, the transcript dryly notes “Reaction from the public” and Leggett calls for order in the room, going on to say:
This is a serious proceeding and we need to be able to have it unfold in a way that shows the kind of respect that we’ve all gathered here to be a part of. So I’d ask the audience to please refrain from verbally expressing or by handclapping or anything like that your perspectives.
Legget then asks, Mr. Cullen, any comments in reply?
Cullen: I’m surprised it took 10 minutes.
Leggett: Excuse me —
Cullen: The notion — Madam Chair, I think it’s your comments about the audience.
Leggett: No —
Cullen: I also referenced those questions and those opinions.
I think it is critical for us to show as much decorum and respect and I’ve
attempted to, in my comments, to show that respect.
I looked very carefully at this Procedural Direction Number 4 and what is
oral evidence; it’s in the second bullet:
“Personal knowledge and experience about the potential effects of
the project on you and your community.”
My initial intervention in this was to describe the approach that was taken
and is being taken by the company to engage with my communities in the
promotion of the project and to describe the merits from the company’s
I then described my intervention with the company to attempt to have as
much public engagement and disclosure as possible around the project and was
I think both of those references directly speak to how the company seeks
to engage the people that I represent, which speaks to my personal knowledge
about the potential effects on the project and the community. How a company
engages a community is also linked to how the project will be manifest.
I will seek to speak to the personal references that I have and the
experience that I have with this company, but it shows some umbrage from the
company who attempted to limit my ability to even speak here at all today to then
suggest that they have the interests of the Panel at heart when they intervene
within eight and a half minutes to attempt to limit my testimony further.
Legett: Mr. Cullen, this is not a political statement.
Legett: And you’ve recognized as a politician it’s difficult from that aspect of it. I would ask you to please talk to us about your personal knowledge and experiences on the potential effects of the project.
Leggett: So if we could get straight to that point.
Leggett So if we could get straight to that point.
Leggett The Panel doesn’t need to hear the preamble and the setup of that. We’re interested in just getting straight to your personal knowledge and experiences about the potential effects.There are other stages in the process for argument —
Leggett —as you’re well aware, and as an intervenor you’ll have that opportunity at the appropriate place. But the concept of the oral evidence is to hear directly from you on yourpersonal knowledge and experiences on the potential effects of the project.
Cullen: So may I ask a procedural question then?
Leggett Go ahead.
Cullen: The point I was getting to before being interrupted was
my experience with the Gitxsan Nation and spending time with people in the
Hazeltons immediately following the impacts of a deal that had been publicly
reported to be signed between the Gitxsan Nation and the Enbridge company and
the local community effects.
I think it may be overly restrictive to suggest that only once a pipeline in
the ground and the effects of a potential spill are the only impacts. I would argue,
and respectfully argue to the Panel, that the engagement with the communities
that I represent is also an impact of the project, that the First Nations’
engagement, the engagement at the community level is part and parcel of what this project is.
To suggest that it’s only an engineering question full stop seems like it
would limit the ability of people presenting, as I am, to relate who this company is
and what they seek to do through the course of the implementation of this project.
The way a company conducts itself with a community in advance of a
project is also indicative of maybe how they will conduct themselves with a
community after the project is in the ground, if you follow my line of reasoning.
Leggett Again, I would remind you that we’re not here to hear argument.
Cullen: I understand.
Leggett We’re not here to hear the case from that perspective. And so I would ask you to continue to bear in mind that I will interrupt you —
Cullen: Of course.
Leggett —and we need to hear your personal knowledge and your experiences about the potential effects of the project.
Leggett And so within that context, I’d ask you to
proceed so that we don’t end up spending your time on this. I know you have 45
Cullen: Sure. So —
Leggett — and I know you probably have a busy schedule, so let’s listen to you again and see how this works.
Cullen: Let me try this and you’ll interrupt again if I’m offline. Inherent in the project is the ability to have agreements with First Nations. That is in the Application. That is in the nature and design of the project.
In my personal experiences, particularly in dealing with the Elders andHereditary Chiefs of Gitxsan, the project has been, to this point — in the attempt to sign a negotiated agreement to enable the project, the impact has been incredibly negative on the people within that nation.
I met with Enbridge some weeks ago in Ottawa, asked the company representatives if they would take responsibility for any of those upfront impacts of the way they were treating the First Nations people that I represent. I was told “No”. I think that’s wrong.
I think we cannot simply say that the impacts are only in the prospective
idea of a pipeline breaking upon the land or a super tanker running into an island
and leaking into the ocean. I think those are real. Those are perceived and
But I think in the nature of the communities that we represent — that I
represent and that you will be visiting, it is also inherent in the way that we have
relationship. We started today off with relationship. We talked about respect.
You thanked the people who came in for their honouring of today. That is what
we are in fact also talking about.
I don’t know if I’m within the bounds of Procedural Direction Number 4,
but it feels to me that the two cannot be separated, that the way the company
conducts itself within the local communities and the First Nations is inherent to
the way the company will conduct themselves in the engineering and the cleanups
if there is an accident. Those two things seem to me indivisible.
Before I continue, I want to seek if I’m at all on the right track.
At this point the three members of the panel confer among themselves.
Leggett Mr. Cullen, you started your presentation by saying that you had stories to tell.
Cullen: That’s right.
Leggett And the stories that you are hopefully going to tell us about the land and the history of the land; that’s what oral evidence is about.
As far as potentially discussing what you believe is the credibility of the
company and those types of things is not within the framework of oral evidence.
As I said before, there is a different time in the proceeding for argument,
to present your views, to present the thoughts on how you think things have
unfolded, but the oral evidence is particularly to — as we’ve mentioned time and
time again, the Aboriginal traditional knowledge is a good indication of —
Leggett –what oral evidence is. So if you could constrain yourself to the stories, for example, of the land, of the history of the land, that would be the information that would be mosthelpful to us at this point.
Cullen: I appreciate the Panel’s comment. I was going to impugn that on the question of credibility. If the company has none, I won’t approach it in my testimony today.
Leggett Mr. Cullen, please, that’s not appropriate. Could you please proceed if you have stories about land use and the history of the land?
Cullen: So —
Leggett: If you don’t have –
Leggett —that, then I’m afraid it won’t be a good time
for us to listen to you.
Cullen: The history of the land is implicitly connected to the people who live here. The history of the land, the traditional knowledge that has been accumulated of this land, we have an expression here that says “The land makes the people. The people don’t make the land”.
Cullen: And it seems —
Leggett Excuse me, for people listening in over the
internet and also for the Panel, it’s very difficult when tthere continue to be
interruptions from the audience.
So could I ask you for your cooperation in helping us be able to proceed
here in a way that we can all hear and appreciate the oral evidence that’s being
Cullen: It’s tough. These are emotional and powerful issues for
people, and they — it’s tough to tell folks in the North to restrain themselves
emotionally sometimes. We are a passionate people, particularly when it comes
to the land.
The history of this land is connected to the people. The stewards of this
land have been the First Nations people for millennia.
The impact that I have seen to this point on the stewards of the land, by
even just the proposal of this project, has been to — so discord and a great division
within some of the communities that I represent. This is at a very personal level.
You asked for personal stories in which Elders have felt that expressing
their opinions one way or the other on a project has exposed them to abuse and
criticism, that it has divided communities, some of whom are very small and
intimate places to live.
The question that we have before us is: What impacts will this project
have on the land and the people which it sustains?
The proposal that a 36-inch pipeline carrying 525,000 litres of oil -barrelsof oil per day across some of the most rugged and difficult land to traverse, and the inherent risk that is associated to such an endeavour has affected people at their core because unlike some places in this world, the connection of people to that land is implicit, is inherent, and is in fact defended by the very Supreme Court of this country, that when a project comes along under the lawsand guise that are developed here in Canada, the law is not on our side. And so the impact on people at a personal level, the impact on people’s ability to imagine a viable economy, to remain stewards of both the ocean and the land is what is being put at risk.
Before we started our hearings today, I spent some time looking out at the
ocean and wondering, are there any decisions — is there anything that we are
doing here today to put that at risk? And that is true.
It is impossible for me, as somebody who represents 300,000 square
kilometres of north-western B.C. to suggest that the imminent threat of super
tankers, bigger than the Empire State Building, ploughing some of the most
difficult waters to plough does not have implicit threat to the people I represent.
When I visit the communities of Hartley Bay and Bella Coola, Metlakatla,
Lax Kw’alaams, the connection people have to the ocean environment is second
to none. It may be in fact difficult for some Canadians to understand that don’t
live in such communities.
You have the great fortune of visiting some of these places. You will eat
the food that they will generously provide for you. There’s an expression that
says, “When the tide goes out, the table is set”. And the people that I represent
and the impacts upon their very way of life cannot be measured only in dollars
and cents but in the very cultural fabric that holds people together.
You asked me for my personal experiences and what the potential impacts
of this project are. Before even a shovel has hit the ground the impacts have been
felt. I understand you don’t want that kind of testimony today. You want
something more implicit to the proposed actual building of the pipeline, but if
something starts off so badly at a human level, at a community level, how can we
expect it to turn out well in the end?
Ms. Estep: Madam Chair, I’m sorry to interrupt — interject again, but Icontinue to — Northern Gateway continues to maintain its objection that this is argument, not oral evidence.
The views he’s providing are argument, and we will be hearing directly
from the Metlakatla and the Gitxsan. Those parties can speak for themselves as to
the cultural impacts and their oral traditional knowledge. They’ll provide that
directly to the Panel.
Leggett Mr. Cullen, again, if we could get you to focus
in on the stories that —
Leggett —you’re bringing today to us about the history of the land and the land, and to stay away — I mean, it’s not that we don’t want to hear your argument.
Cullen: I understand.
Leggett But it’s just not the right place.
Cullen: I understand.
Leggett And it’s the oral evidence piece that we’re here to hear from you today. So again, I would direct you to come back to that aspect.
Leggett If you would like a little bit of time, we’d be happy to take a bit of a break for you to rethink where you want to talk to the Panel today or, you know, just proceed on that basis, but —
Cullen: I think best while talking, so I’ll keep on talking.
Leggett But while you talk, would you please contain yourself to the oral evidence, please?
Cullen: Yeah, absolutely. If I come, Madam Chair, to the point of objection that was raised, I take some significant umbrage with the idea that is suggested by the company that Ihave ever at this point, or any point in my political career —
Leggett Mr. Cullen —
Cullen: — attempted to speak on behalf of — Madam Chair, you
have to allow — there’s been — when interjections like this come there’s a certain
impugning of reputation that happens. To not be able to address the point of order
that is being raised by Enbridge seems to leave me at a certain disadvantage, that I
am only being accused of certain things and not being able to defend myself of
those accusations, and that, to me, seems somehow unfair.
Leggett Mr. Cullen, the objection that’s been raised is in
terms of the content of the material that you’re presenting —
Cullen: That’s right.
Leggett — in terms of oral evidence. The Panel is continuing to remind you and ask you, please, to go to the personal knowledge and experience about the potential effects.
Cullen: So —
Leggett If you can’t do that —
Cullen: Okay. Allow me to —
Leggett — then we will have to —
Cullen: Let me try this.
Leggett — we’ll have to tell you that, you know, we’ll look forward to your argument at the right time, but the oral evidence piece will be finished for today.
Cullen: Let me try this. I met with a company, one of the leading companies globally who deals with spills from tankers. They’re the best of the best. I asked them for what the recovery rate was considered a success on a marine accident. I was told that in ideal conditions, anywhere approaching 10 per cent recovery of the total spill was considered successful.
I have lived by these waters. I represent the people who depend on these
waters. That knowledge and the potential impacts of a spill within the marine
environment and the inability to clean those up is a personal experience and a
knowledge — we cannot forbade the idea that we have to have actually sat in an
oil spill in order to comment on what the effects are going to be to the coastal
We have knowledge at our hands in terms of what these impacts can be. The communities I represent are deeply concerned about this. My experience with them has been, in the past, when there have been accidents, the Queen of the North, for example, that the promises that have been made by both government and the private sector alike are only made when the cameras are rolling, but when the attention disappears the cleanup isn’t there.
And that is real and important in terms of the experience that we have had in the North Coast in dealing with government and in dealing with the private sector when commitments are made in the proposal of an idea that are not followed up in the actual implication and implementation of that idea. That is real experience; that is knowledge.
Leggett And, Mr. Cullen, you’re again referring to
technical information and scientific information, and again that’s a piece that will
come forward —
Leggett –in the cross-examination phase. I would still –
Leggett –ask you to focus on the stories that you told you were bringing us today —
Leggett — about your personal knowledge and experiences about the potential effects of the project on you and your community.
You’ve — you and I are having this discussion on a regular basis now. If
the information you’re bringing just doesn’t fit within that scope today, then I
would — you may be asked to stop and we’ll hear from you at the appropriate time
Cullen: So, may I ask a question before I proceed?
Leggett If you would proceed with your evidence that would be helpful and we will continue to go from there. Mr. Cullen, this is a very important process and —
Cullen: I absolutely understand, Madam Chair.
Leggett –it’s very important that we deal with the aspects that are in front of us, and right now we’re in the oral evidence collection phase.
Cullen: That’s right.
Leggett: And as we’ve said many times, a good reference
point for that is the Aboriginal traditional knowledge. That’s the aspect of oral
evidence that is pertinent to this point of the review.
Cullen: As has also been declared, the personal knowledge and
experience about the potential effects of the project on you and your community.
Cullen: I’m simply trying —
Leggett: That’s absolutely correct.
Cullen: — to follow the rules that you’ve been given out to the
witnesses. I find — I hold this Panel in respect. I attempt in every angle and word to adhere to the guidance that you’ve given me, the personal knowledge and experience about the potential impacts/effects of the project on me and my community.
I feel at this point somewhat disheartened that, in effect, the interpretation
of the guidelines being allowed and permitted at this stage so encumber the ability
of someone from the north, someone who represents people to actually present
what my experience has been with this company and what my experience has
been with the people that I represent and the implications of this project on those
people and on me and my family.
I find that through whatever course of angle I take the words that you gave
me and I seek to apply them to my evidence and I feel that it’s near to impossible
— near to impossible in the restrictions that have been offered and the
interpretation of that one line, that one sentence, that in fact you’re looking for
something entirely different.
Leggett: What we’re looking for is your evidence not
Cullen: The evidence that I have is that, in fact, this process
suffers under a certain amount of intimidation from the Prime Minister of this
Ms. Estep: Madam Chair, we continue to object. This is completely
You’ve reminded Mr. Cullen numerous times now and he quite clearly has
a very different interpretation of what personal experience and oral evidence is.
And that just simply is not within the scope of what we are trying to do here
today, as you have pointed out numerous times.
Leggett: Mr. Cullen, at this point I’m going to suggest that we take a 10-minute break and —
Cullen: Five is good, if you don’t want to waste your time.
Leggett: I beg your pardon?
Cullen: Five is okay?
Leggett: Five is just great. Thank you.
Leggett: And again I want to make sure that you understand that it’s not that we don’t want to hear from you —
Cullen: I understand.
Leggett: — it’s just the time and place and the content, and so final argument would be the place for the type of information that you’ve been providing to the Panel today.
Leggett: And if you do have other information that relates to evidence as far as your personal experiences and knowledge, that’s what we’d like to hear about today. At a different point, which is the final argument, that’s where we’ll want to hear further in terms of the way you’re speaking today.
Cullen: Absolutely. So five minutes?
Leggett: Thank you. Five minutes.
— Upon recessing at 10:01 a.m.
— Upon resuming at 10:08 a.m.
Leggett: We’d like to get underway, please.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Attention.
Leggett: Thank you for your help. That’s terrific. So
we’ll get back underway.
I just wanted to start off by saying, from the perspective of the Panel it’s an interpretation aspect. Your interpretation of what oral evidence is falls within our expectations of what argument is. And so I want to be clear that the stage and place for that is at a later time. And the oral evidence piece that we’re here to talk about is as you started to talk earlier on about your stories about the land and the historical land use. And so with that we’ll turn it back over to you.Thank you.
Cullen: You’re inviting me back for later, is what you’re saying.
Leggett: You’re an intervenor in the process, Mr. Cullen;we welcome you at all the appropriate times.
Cullen: Just keeping it friendly. Let me allow this; I wasn’t born here, I was born in Ontario and I chose to live here. I can remember coming off the ferry here in Prince Rupert with a beat-up ’86 Tercel and driving across the northwest to what I thought was an eight-month experience to do a contract in Smithers B.C. I had no expectations that this would become my home. I had no expectations that this would become my family.
I think the experience that I had driving across the north that day — it was a beautiful morning, going over the rivers and by the lakes and seeing the mountains — the most clear thought I had that day was if we mess this up there’s not much hope for us because everything’s here.
I’ve lived around the world. I’ve worked in countries that do not have the fortune that we have. And I realized that while this place is incredibly powerful -and I’m sure you share those feelings, having spent some time here — it will only continue with us if we respect the land.
The interconnectivity that I’ve seen between people and the land — my interconnectivity has increased enormously since living here. When I attend the feast halls of various nations across the north from Haida Gwaii to Fort St. James all the way to the Taku River Tlingit in the far north down to the Bella Bella and Bella Bella Coola people in the south, all of which is contained within this one federal riding.
It has been one consistent factor, and that is the land supports us and we must defend the land. That my ability, not just as a representative but as a citizen and resident of this place, to speak up when necessary in defence of this place is my responsibility and it will not be curtailed or shut down by anything. I think it is incumbent upon all of us when we live here.
I took a trip with some friends, who are also elected representatives, down the Douglas Channel two summers ago — and I hope this bears relevance to what we’re talking here today — and it was in a fishing boat. We like to fish up here. And it was not a big boat, 30, 35 feet. And I wanted to take the actual route that is being proposed by the Proponent. I wanted to see the waters. I wanted to see the channels. I wanted to understand what the challenge was in moving these incredibly large vessels through these particular waters.
And it was a beautiful day, it was a sunny day, it was summertime, and I was most struck coming out of the Douglas Channel going towards the ocean by the incredible sharpness of the turns that are required and having done at least a little bit of research on what the capacities and capabilities of super tankers are to manoeuver and to move.
I was asked this question that over the course of this project there will be approximately 15,000 sailings through that route, and I have to ask myself, and I ask this Panel, what the perspective is of perfection when humans are involved; that can we sail that narrow channel 15,000 times through all kinds of weather, all kinds of circumstances, both human and environmental, with never having made a mistake once, because we can’t make a mistake once.
When I stay in Hartley Bay people who this country celebrated as heroes,
as you’ll remember, after the sinking of the Queen of the North, they risked their
own lives to go out and save people.
And when I’m in Hartley Bay you have to hit the day right in order to see anybody because if it’s a day when you can go out and collect food, if it’s a good day for getting clams or sea urchin, you’re not going to find anybody around.
11018. And in my vocation as a politician what I’m trying to do when I visit a community is see people, but I don’t despair when I end up Hartley Bay or Bella Coola and everybody’s gone, and they’re out fishing and they’re out collecting, and they’re out sustaining themselves and sustaining the land. And I’m reminded of that inherent connection every time.
And so when the Panel seeks to understand what’s being put at risk here, it’s not simply a meal, it’s not even just a job, but it’s an entire culture and way of live.
We sometimes say we are a salmon people, and you live here long enough you understand the inherent connection of that one species to our vitality as people. And we cannot survive without it.
So in your deliberations and your understanding of what the merits and the implications are of this particular project, you have to understand what the implications are for us. And it’s everything, it’s everything.
You’ll spend some time looking at this project. Maybe it seems like a long time to you but it’s very short for us. And you’ll move on and you’ll do other things.
I hope you’re impacted, as I have been by the people, because I know we’re supposed to talk about the rivers and the oceans and the trees, and all those things are important, but it’s the people that I think of when I’m here today.
And when I’m in the feast hall and we celebrate, we celebrate culture, we celebrate the bounty of this land, we celebrate coming together and forming nation. And I think what wealth we have and how generous people are here in sharing that wealth.
Thank you for your time.
Leggett Thank you, Mr. Cullen. The Panel has no questions.
Leggett: Thank you, Mr. Cullen. You’ve left the table now, but the Panel has no questions of clarification