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Thursday, March 19, 2020 | 1

THURSDAY March 19, 2020

Citizen photo

Mr. PG turning 60 in May Citizen staff

A birthday party is in the works for Mr. PG. A lunchtime celebration with food trucks will be held at his home at the junction of Highway 16 and Highway 97 on Fri., May 8 to celebrate his 60th year. And on Sat., May 9, a scavenger hunt based out of The Exploration Place will be held in

Lheidli T’enneh Memorial Park featuring Mr. PG-related items. Mr. PG will also be featured on the cover of the Spring Active Living Guide, and as part of the Women’s World Curling Championships, the City’s Civic Appreciation event, and numerous other

local activities. For these events, the city is working with Tourism Prince George to produce a portable Mr. PG photo backdrop. The Exploration Place is also planning to refurbish an old Mr. PG phone booth that is located in the Explorers Learning Garden adjacent to the museum, according to a

staff report to city council. The mascot first appeared publicly on May 8, 1960, to welcome delegates to a Rotary International conference at the Simon Fraser Inn. Since then, he has appeared on parade floats, as a phone booth and on a Canada Post stamp.

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Delgamuukw did not settle the question of Wet’suwet’en title Nelson BENNETT Glacier Media


s protests in support of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs opposed to the Coastal GasLink pipeline continue to rage across the country, a number of Wet’suwet’en and their supporters have pointed to the landmark Delgamuukw decision to support their position. That position is that the hereditary chiefs are the rightful title-holders of traditional land, and that only they can make decisions about what happens on that land. They cite the landmark Supreme Court of Canada Delgamuukw decision as affirming Wet’suwet’en title. Except it didn’t. “There are people who are saying that the Delgamuukw decision affirms Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en title, and that is not correct,” said Geoff Plant, former B.C. attorney general, treaty minister and lawyer for the Crown in the original Delgamuukw trial. “It affirmed that title exists in law but said that the Wet’suwet’en and Gitxsan would essentially need to start all over with a new trial.” “We’re not talking about proven Aboriginal title,” said Thomas Isaac, author of Aboriginal Law and former chief treaty negotiator for the B.C. government. “We’re talking about asserted title, and we’re talking about the rule of law. And the same courts that recognize Section 35 [Canadian Constitution] rights are the same courts that put limits on those rights. It scoped out what title meant, should it be proven. That decision didn’t prove

title. It was sent back to trial.” The Delgamuukw decision was an important legal precedent in Aboriginal rights and title law. The case was brought by members of the Wet’suwet’en and neighbouring Gitxsan First Nation. It became one of the cornerstones for other rulings, notably the William decision, in which the Supreme Court of Canada affirmed the Tsilhqot’in Nation had established title to a portion of claimed territory through continuous and exclusive occupation. Aboriginal title is a higher form of Aboriginal rights. First Nations may hold Aboriginal rights to use land and waters for activities such as hunting, fishing and trapping, but that does not mean they own it. It may be shared territory used by other First Nations. Title is a form of ownership of specific land, although that ownership is communal. In William, the Supreme Court of Canada confirmed Tsilhqot’in title based on the definitions established in the Delgamuukw case. It ruled that 1,750 square kilometres of Crown land southwest of Williams Lake now belongs to the Tsilhqot’in, not the Crown. That’s 2% of the Tsilhqot’in traditional territory originally claimed. Unlike in the William case, the Supreme Court in Delgamuukw stopped short of declaring that the Wet’suwet’en or Gitxsan had proven title to any specific lands. It affirmed that Aboriginal rights and title exist and were never extinguished. But to establish title, a second trial would be needed. As the William case

demonstrated, proving title would require establishing continuous and exclusive occupation to certain lands. It would also need to address overlap issues with other First Nations in shared territory. It’s not clear why the Wet’su-wet’en never pressed forward with a second trial. As of press time, a representative for the Office of the Wet’suwet’en could not be reached to comment. Even when Aboriginal title to specific land is proven, it is “not absolute” and can be infringed, if there is a reasonable justification for that infringement, the Supreme Court ruled. “The aboriginal rights recognized and affirmed by s. 35(1), including aboriginal title, are not absolute,” the Supreme Court notes in the Delgamuukw decision. “Those rights may be infringed, both by the federal … and provincial … governments. However, [Section 35] requires that those infringements satisfy the test of justification.” The court provides examples where Aboriginal title might justifiably be infringed: “agriculture, forestry, mining, and hydroelectric power, the general economic development of the interior of British Columbia, protection of the environment or endangered species, the building of infrastructure and the settlement of foreign populations to support those aims, are the kinds of objectives that are consistent with this purpose and, in principle, can justify the infringement of aboriginal title.” The imbroglio over the Coastal GasLink

pipeline speaks to the failure of the treaty process, which was supposed to resolve the Wet’suwet’en rights and title issue out of court. The Wet’suwet’en reached the agreementin-principle stage but then abandoned the treaty table about two years ago. It is worth noting that the BC Treaty Commission recognizes the hereditary chiefs, through the Office of the Wet’suwet’en – not elected band council chiefs – as having the authority to negotiate treaty with the provincial and federal governments. In other words, the courts and governments recognize the authority of the hereditary chiefs as legitimate representatives of the Wet’suwet’en. In the Wet’suwet’en’s case, however, there is division over the Coastal GasLink project. Some hereditary chiefs oppose it, while others support it, as do all the elected band councils. Even where title is not proven – only asserted – provincial and federal governments have a duty to consult with and accommodate First Nations when approving projects that may infringe on their rights. But the duty to consult and accommodate is not a duty to achieve unanimous consent. That would effectively give First Nations a veto, and courts have repeatedly stated that no such veto power exists. “There is almost no case where Aboriginal title confers an absolute right,” Plant said. “Canadian law is always about balance. There are always cases where the greater social good will prevail over a private right, no matter how important or passionately held.”

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Hateful comments can haunt you: expert Arthur Williams Citizen staff

Sticks and stones may break bones, but posts online can haunt you forever, according to a social media expert. UNBC assistant professor Kafui Monu’s research is focused on social media and business, which includes how human resources professionals use social media to screen potential hires. “I actually just read a recent paper looking at how human resources professionals are using social media,” Monu said. “It is very easily searchable, to the point it can be highly automated. In the future... and when I say the future I mean a year from now, bots will be designed to search people’s social media posts. No person has the time to search through everything, but a bot does.” A recent, and yet-to-be-published, research paper looking at social media use found that examining social media posts was just as good or better at predicting a person’s personality traits and fit with a company’s corporate culture as formal personality testing, Monu said. While social media posts are “curated” by the poster, they still represent a clear insight into that person’s attitudes and behaviour, he said. Locally, citizen stories on the Wet’suwet’en blockade of the Coastal GasLink pipeline, the railway blockades in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, and the proposed renam-

ing of Kelly Road Secondary School have prompted a flurry of offensive comments online. One comment, made on a change.org petition, to keep the Kelly Road name, suggested Indigenous people should “get a job & pay taxes like the rest of us or starve & die,” and should be run through a wood wood chipper if they don’t want to work. That prompted one person to forward a screen shot of the comment to the poster’s employer, The Citizen and the RCMP. One comment characterized anyone opposed to the Kelly Road name change as “Nazis.” Others suggested the railway blockades could be solved with water cannons or running people over with trains. Monu said any posts of a racist, sexist, homophobic or otherwise bigoted nature could be red flags for a potential employer. In addition, he said, depending on company policies around social media, employers may be within their right to discipline or fire an employee for offensive comments online. Comments that cross the line into hate speech, as defined in the Criminal Code of Canada, could face legal consequences as well, Monu added. The Prince George RCMP did not return requests for comment on whether police are investigating any of those comments as possible hate crimes.

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Undetected cracks blamed for pipeline blast

The Canadian Press

A delayed inspection and a failure to predict how fast cracks could develop from corrosion are cited in a report describing the cause of an explosion and fire in an Enbridge natural gas pipeline northeast of Prince George in October 2018. No one was injured in the incident but 125 people in a two-kilometre radius were evacuated as a precaution and the outage in the almost 50-year-old pipeline led to natural gas shortages throughout British Columbia. In its final report, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada says the 90-centimetre (36-inch) pipeline - part of the T-South gas system that supplies much of southern B.C. - ruptured due to stress corrosion cracks on the outside surface of the pipe. It said polyethylene tape coating applied to the pipe to protect it from corrosion deteriorated over time, allowing soil moisture to come into contact with the pipe surface and leading to corrosion and cracking. “The pipeline operator had a stress corrosion cracking hazard management plan in place for this pipeline,” the report says. “The model used to predict crack growth did not take into account all potential uncertainties in the predicted

crack growth... Additionally, an inspection of this pipeline segment scheduled for 2017 was deferred until the fall of 2018. As such, the existing cracks remained undetected.” The TSB says cracking due to tape deterioration was also to blame for three other similar pipeline failures since 2002, all in TransCanada Corp. (now TC Energy Corp.) pipelines, near Beardmore, Ont. in 2011, at Swastika, Ont., in 2009 and at Brookdale, Man., in 2002. The tape isn’t used in new pipeline construction but remains in place on many older pipelines in Canada, Philopoulos said. “We know this incident has caused concern and disrupted the lives of so many people in the area and we really apologize for that,” said Michele Harradence, Enbridge chief operations officer for gas transmission and midstream, in an interview. “We absolutely commit we’ve learned from this incident and taken steps to ensure the safety of our natural gas system. And we took those steps right away, as soon as we were able to get into the area to see what happened.” Enbridge says it has completed enhanced pipeline inspections on its natural gas pipeline system in B.C. to prevent similar incidents from

occurring. “My community understandably remains very concerned about Enbridge’s operations through our territory, and for good reason,” Lheidli T’enneh Dayi Clay Pountney said in a statement. “The TSB report is clear in its findings that Enbridge’s operations were lacking.” He noted the TSB confirmed members had only one exit route out. “We stated from the beginning that our key concern was the safety of our

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members and other people living close to the gas pipelines,” Pountney said. “We launched our lawsuit against Enbridge because we weren’t getting adequate and transparent answers. We now have some answers. It is time for Canada to learn and improve from these mistakes.”  In a response, Enbridge said it has completed an “aggressive integrity program” along its system to prevent similar incidents in the future. - with files from Prince George Citizen

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Students learn to save power

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Citizen Photo by James Doyle. A student rings their buzzer on Friday morning at Ron Brent Elementary while competing in a game show against Mayor Lyn Hall as part of BC Hydro’s Winter Conservation Campaign. Citizen staff

During the game show challenge at Ron Brent elementary school last Friday morning, BC Hydro brought its Winter Conservation Campaign to the Grade 4 through 7 students and asked Mayor Lyn Hall to join in the fun with a friendly competition. The game quickly saw a partnership between the competitors to brainstorm the answers. First there was a video to introduce how B.C. residents get electricity into

their homes and emphasized that 97 per cent of it comes from the renewable resource of water. (That was important to remember because it would come up later during the quiz.) Dave, best known for his Powersmart ads, offered a special video greeting geared just for the students of Ron Brent elementary. Then Hall was introduced to the students and he talked about how the City of Prince George conserves energy by using wood waste from Lakeland

Mills to heat 13 downtown buildings and other ways the city conserves energy. Grade 5 students were asked to compete against the mayor one-on-one during a round of quiz questions. In order to answer, the student or mayor had to hit the buzzer before the other to answer. The children in the Ron Brent auditorium were enthusiastic and encouraged each other with cheers and applause.

The BC Hydro community outreach team from Vancouver conducted the Winter Conservation Campaign at Ron Brent, one of four events in the province and offered the school some gifts to give the children as a reminder of the occasion. “The students will get little pop-up booklets that open up,� Mick Ramos, member of the outreach team, said. The activity booklets include the information the students learned during the event.

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Central Mountain Air will be launching direct flights to and from Calgary starting on May 3. Flights will depart Prince George at 4:25 p.m. six days a week, Sunday to Friday, and arrive at 7:15 p.m. Return flights will leave Calgary at 8 a.m., Monday to Thursday,and arrive in Prince George at 9:05 a.m. Calgary flights will depart at 10:45 a.m. on Fridays and Sundays, arriving in P.G. at 11:50 a.m. Central Mountain Air announced other flight changes on Thursday, including new service between Fort St. John and Edmonton, and the cancellation of direct flights from Prince George to Dawson Creek. “We are excited to increasingly connect vibrant the communities of Prince George and Fort St. John to Alberta and the rest of the world with convenient and cost-effective air service,” Central Mountain Air CEO Bob Cummings said in a press release. “These routes are designed to more conveniently connect business and leisure travellers between popular B.C. destinations and major Alberta cities and beyond, saving them

time and money.” Direct flights between Prince George and Dawson Creek will end on March 30. Central Mountain Air will be competing with WestJet, which also offers direct flights between Prince George and Calgary. “We are pleased Central Mountain Air has further expanded their network out of (the Prince George Airport),” Prince George Airport Authority president and CEO Gordon Duke said in a press release. “This additional flight gives passengers choice in terms of schedule heading to (Calgary) and beyond. We value our relationship with CMA and look forward to supporting them as they continue to grow their presence at our airport.” Central Mountain Air offers scheduled service between Prince George and Vancouver, Edmonton, Kelowna, Kamloops, Terrace, Smithers, Fort St. John and Fort Nelson. The airline will be offering special introductory rates, up to 40 per cent off, on flights to Calgary between May 3 and July 19.


CMA offers direct flights to Calgary

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Winner of 7th Annual Art Battle 2020 Prince George Citizen Photo by James Doyle. Harshpreet Kaur works on her painting during the final round of competition at the 7th Annual Art Battle Prince George on March 6 at the Bob Harkins branch of the Prince George Public Library.

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Tenure swap approved Glacier Media

The mayor of Clearwater is breathing a sign of relief, following the announcement that a tenure swap that will keep the area’s logging sector alive has been approved. B.C. Forests Minister Doug Donaldson approved the transfer of two licences in the Kamloops Timber Supply Area near Vavenby with a combined allowable annual cut of about 349,000 cubic metres per year. The timber in those two licences would be surplus to Canfor’s needs, following the permanent closure of its Vavenby sawmill, while Interfor could use the timber for its Adams Lake sawmill. In the past, such tenure sales or transfers occurred with little interference from the provincial government. But under the NDP government’s new Bill 22, such transfers or sales must now be subject to community and First Nations input and feedback, and approved by the minister. The new rules were intended to address the concentration of tenure in the hands of just a few of the biggest players in B.C. Clearwater Mayor Merlin Blackwell

has been critical of the provincial government for taking so long to make a decision, and was “incredibly relieved” to hear the news Friday that the swap has been approved. Roughly 170 workers in the area lost their jobs when Canfor permanently shut down its Vavenby sawmill. Blackwell estimates 300 to 400 people in his area are employed in logging and the service sector that serves the industry. He feared many of those jobs would also be lost, if the swap were not approved. But not only has the tenure swap been approved, Clearwater will also get $850,000 in benefits from it. Conditions attached to the swap obliges Canfor to provide $500,000 to the Wells Gray Community Forest. Another $200,000 will go to the District of Clearwater for a legacy fund, and $150,000 to the United Way. Jim Girvan, a forestry consultant, said the transfer “makes a lot of sense,” and will help the Adams Lake mill remain viable. “The Adams Lake mill will have sufficient volume to remain competitive and, I trust, local contractors in the

Vavenby area will still be able to harvest the wood,” he said. “We are pleased that Premier (John) Horgan and Minister Donaldson have approved the transfer of forest tenure associated with the Vavenby mill to Interfor,” Canfor CEO Don Kayne said in a press release. “With strong leadership from Premier Horgan, today’s decision demonstrates the BC government’s support of the

Interior forest sector as it continues the difficult process of reducing production capacity to align with the available timber supply.” Kayne said Canfor is now working to sell its land in Vavenby where the former sawmill operated. The $60-million deal between Canfor and Interfor is expected to be closed by the end of March.

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First Nations benefit proposals made Arthur WILLIAMS Citizen staff

The First Nations Major Projects Coalition is calling on the federal government to consider its eight recommendations as part of a new benefits-sharing framework for resource projects in the traditional territory of First Nations. In December, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau identified the need for a new benefits-sharing framework as a priority for his government. The coalition put forward its recommendations during the group’s annual Industry Engagement Event in Prince George last week. “Effecting real change and progress can not be done by one party working in isolation,” coalition chairperson Chief Sharleen Gale said. “The government could not have a better partner than First Nations. Decisions that we make in our communities are from the land up.” Gale, who is the chief of the Fort Nelson First Nation, said Indigenous groups have traditionally faced, and

continue to face, significant barriers to participating in development on natural resources in their traditional territories. Many of the organization’s member First Nations are interested in buying a stake in projects in their territories, but access to financing can be a major barrier, she said. “Equity ownership offers a chance for our nations to fully take part in the mainstream economy,” Gale said. “When a First Nation is doing good, the benefits trickle up to the community.” Chief Corrina Leween, of the Cheslatta Carrier Nation, said her nation bid on purchasing a stake in the Coastal GasLInk natural gas pipeline project, but weren’t able to secure the capital they needed. “Cheslatta was squeezed out because the cost of capital was uncompetitive,” Leween said. “We don’t want to be squeezed out of another opportunity on our lands. We want to be able to collaborate on projects... and to have a seat at the project governance table.” The coalition made the following

eight recommendations for the federal government as it looks at its new benefit sharing framework: 1) Leverage available tools within the federal fiscal framework to establish a program designed to support Indigenous groups with access to capital (such as loan guarantees) for a wide variety of resource projects. 2) Ensure maximum flexibility of those tools and programs to be able to support Indigenous groups with ownership objectives over a wide variety of project dynamics and asset classes. 3) Develop and sustain an Indigenous major projects capacity fund to support Indigenous communities with professional advice and counsel necessary to undertake independent due diligence on projects. 4) Engage with Indigenous nations and Indigenous organizations on the development of qualifying criteria to define the size and scale of major projects and determine how the national benefits sharing framework would support Indigenous

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involvement in those projects. 5) Engage with Indigenous nations and Indigenous organizations who have direct experience participating in the commercial aspects of major project development on the design of a national benefits sharing framework. 6) Establish a joint-engagement and collaboration with industry and institutional sectors to support First Nations equity ownership across all sectors in the context of Indigenous rights and reconciliation. 7) Work with First Nations to design the appropriate mechanism that ensure benefits flow to communitylevel projects. 8) Ensure that benefits are established in a setting that confirms a rigorous and robust environmental review process that adheres to standards adopted by First Nations communities. The Association of Consulting Engineering Companies — Canada and the Canadian Council for PublicPrivate Partnerships both supported the proposed recommendations.

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Dangerous Quesnel intersection to close Citizen staff

The B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure will be deactivating an intersection along Highway 97 in Quesnel this summer to improve safety along the busy route. Highway access to Juniper Road – near the Motherlode carwash, Caravan Motel and Sylvan Motel – will be closed as part of the recommendations coming out of the Quesnel Transportation Study which was completed in 2018, a ministry press release said. “(Analysis) determined the current configuration of this intersection, combined with the significant volumes of commercial traffic, contributes to a collision rate on Highway 97 that is


higher than the provincial average,” the ministry statement said. A timeline for the closure hasn’t been determined, but signs will be posted notifying motorists of the change before the work is done to close the intersection. Access to Juniper Road from Highway 97 will be redirected to intersections on Quesnel-Hydraulic Road and Larch Avenue. For more information about the Quesnel Transportation Study, including planned future improvements for Highway 97 intersections at Racing Road and Quesnel-Hydraulic Road, go online to www.gov.bc.ca/ quesneltransportationstudy.

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