Jan 24, 2019
Standing Up For LNG: A Key Note Presentation by Andy Calitz, CEO of LNG Canada
Delivered to the British Columbia Natural Resource Forum.
January 22, Prince George – Good evening ladies and gentlemen I want to acknowledge that we are on the traditional territory of the Lheidli T’enneh.
Thank you to the organizers of the BC Natural Resource Forum for the invitation to speak to you tonight. I have often said that it takes a village to build a mega project. I’d like to take a few moments to acknowledge some of the people that have become an important part of LNG Canada’s village.
Crystal Smith, Chief Councillor for Haisla, is a woman who needs little introduction. She has become a symbol for Indigenous leaders who want to take their destiny into their own hands, for the benefit of their people. Crystal has ensured that LNG Canada is aware of, and thoughtfully considers, the interests and concerns of Haisla people.
Kevin Stewart, for his deep knowledge of the Haisla territory, and connection to the hereditary system within Haisla.
Cliff White for his support for the Gitxaala people, and his openness for LNG Canada to come to their community and build relationships, especially with Gitxaala elders and hereditary leaders.
Chief Joe Bevan and Deputy Chief Judy Gerow of the Kitselas, for acknowledging the deep partnerships LNG Canada has built with Indigenous people. To the mayors, councillors and members of every community that supports LNG development, thank you for all the work you have done to stand up for us in the best interest of your communities.
It will be businesses in communities like Prince George, that will have an opportunity to compete for, and work on the project. And tradespeople from this community, and others like it, that will be an essential part of our construction workforce. This is an important Forum and I want to acknowledge the city of Prince George for hosting it once again. In fact, it was at this Forum last year, that Mayor Lori Ackerman, along with Mayor Germuth, Mayor Bumstead, Kevin Stewart and many others, took to the stage for an impromptu media conference and show of support for LNG Canada. That support is, in great measure, the reason we took a final investment decision earlier this year.
I’m certain you can tell from my accent, that Canada is not my mother country. While I was not born here, in the five years I have worked at LNG Canada, it has come to feel like home. My wife Carina and I have become attached to British Columbia. We’ve been impressed by the beauty of the coast, the diversity of the geography, the majesty of the mountains, and the friendliness and welcoming nature of the people.
We live just outside of Vancouver near the water. On many weekends, we walk down a lengthy set of stairs, climb into our double kayak, and paddle to Bowen Island and back. Or we get on our tandem bike and put on 50 kilometres cycling the backroads and trails in our neighbourhood.
Those experiences help me understand what many British Columbians love about this province, and how important it is to preserve and protect that.
When LNG Canada chose Kitimat as the location for our project, we reached out to First Nations leaders and local community officials to help us understand what we needed to do to manage and protect their communities.
We spent a great deal of time building relationships, listening and learning. We were fortunate that the Haisla were open to LNG development and so willing to share their traditional knowledge and experience. We had a similar experience with the Nations along our shipping route.
We spent years studying how our project could co-exist with the natural environment – air, land, water — and manage our greenhouse gas footprint.
We designed our facility to have the lowest CO2 emissions of any large-scale LNG export facility operating in the world today. We recognized the concern about climate change and we wanted to be part of the solution.
During that time, we learned that many First Nations were tired of managing poverty. Our project, they told us, could change that, and instead, provide the opportunity to manage prosperity.
It has been very disappointing to see the negative headlines over the last few weeks about Coastal GasLink, especially given the unprecedented support we received for our projects. After years of consultation and engagement, CGL and LNG Canada reached 25 agreements with Nations at the facility, along the shipping route, and the pipeline right-ofway.
It is difficult for me to fathom how there could be such a strong show of support for one Indigenous group that opposes the Coastal GasLink pipeline, and by association, LNG, and so little attention to all of the support the project has from First Nations communities – elected and Hereditary Chiefs – and the communities across B.C.’s North and in the Lower Mainland that want these projects to proceed.
We need to change that narrative by recognizing the greater and collective benefits that gas customer revenues from China, Japan and Korea – something B.C. hasn’t had before – will provide to First Nations, communities, the province and country.
• Billions of dollars in contracting awards to Local and First Nations contractors
• 10s of billions of dollars in government revenues to the province and the federal government
• 10,000 jobs across the integrated value chain in phase 1 alone.
In the month of October, LNG Canada employed 249 workers from the local area, including First Nations, who now work for LNG Canada or one of our contractors at site. And that is only our first month of what will be five years of construction.
The name Wet’suwet’en and Unist’ot’en seem to be in every headline written about opposition to CGL and LNG. What hasn’t made it into these stories are the names of the many Nations that chose to stand up in support of our projects. I’d like change that, by sharing these names with you tonight.
These are the names of First Nations that said YES to responsible resource development in their territories:
At the LNG Canada export facility
• Haisla Nation
• Gitga’at First Nation
• Gitxaala Nation
• Kitselas First Nation
• Kitsumkalum First Nation
Along the Coastal GasLink pipeline right-of-way:
• Blueberry River First Nations
• Burns Lake Indian Band
• Cheslatta Carrier Nation
• Doig River First Nation
• Haisla Nation
• Halfway River First Nation
• Kitselas First Nation
• Lheidli-T’enneh First Nation
• McLeod Lake Indian Band
• Nadleh Whut’en First Nation
• Nak’azdli Whut’en
• Nee Tahi Buhn Band
• Saik’uz First Nation
• Saulteau First Nations
• Skin Tyee First Nation
• Stellat’en First Nation
• West Moberly First Nations
• Wet’suwet’en First Nation
• Witset First Nation
• Yekooche First Nation
It is these Nations that the country should be marching for. Nations that want to use the LNG opportunity to improve the lives of their members.
I want to be very clear here tonight.
Regardless of the headlines and the protests, LNG Canada has every intention to complete our project. We have every intention to maintain our construction schedule. We have every intention to deliver the jobs and economic benefits we committed for First Nations, for local residents and skilled tradespeople across all northern communities, and for British Columbians and Canadians.
We have every intention to deliver much needed LNG to Asia and other global markets.
Yesterday, LNG Canada announced that as of the end of December, we had approved over $530 million in contracts and subcontracts to local area businesses, to First Nations businesses and to businesses across British Columbia.
That number jumps to $937 million when we add in amounts for contracts to businesses in other parts of Canada. It is just the beginning. We still have years of construction ahead of us.
There is far too much at stake for LNG Canada not to defend our project: Not to stand up for the First Nations and the more than 15,000 members they represent; Not to stand up for the Northern communities, and municipal, provincial and federal governments that have stood up for our project in the past; Not to stand up for the 10,000 people that will be hired by LNG Canada and Coastal GasLink during construction; Not to stand up for the majority of British Columbians that want and need LNG Canada to proceed; and Not to stand up for the people in this room tonight.
It will be people like you — mothers and fathers, and your sons and your daughters — that will benefit from LNG development in B.C.
Over the past few weeks, we have received a great many comments on LNG Canada’s Facebook page – many very positive comments, and not surprisingly, some less so.
There is one comment that particularly caught my attention and sticks in my mind. It’s a comment that makes the LNG opportunity very real.
The Facebook post was from a father whose daughter has been working on the LNG Canada site for the past five months.
“My daughter struggled so much through school…I’ve seen her lay in bed day after day, depression, severe anxiety and suicidal on and off until August, when she was hired on with an employer who has an LNG contract working on the site.
I must admit, I had some doubts if she would be able to do it.
She gets out of bed at 4:45 each morning to get to the shuttle by 5:45 to head to Kitimat. She’s learned it is not all about the books. She has run a packer, trained on rock truck, after training, she worked on the ships to guide trucks onboard to bring loads of logs from the ocean.
The training on safety is intense. It teaches so much responsibility. Safety meetings every morning, start cards to review hazards they may come across and what they are to do.
I am so proud of who my daughter has become in the last 5 months, because of this opportunity, and the support of all the supervisors who pay attention to her needs. She says LNG managers are all over training for the First Nations and females who are onsite, and they take the time to personally meet with them.”
The father ends his Facebook post by saying:
“Let this be a positive journey for our children and their families to come.”
LNG Canada respects the rights of individuals to peacefully express their point-of-view, as long as their activities don’t jeopardize people’s safety and are within the law.
But it’s just as important for this province and country to recognize and respect the Haisla, Kitselas, Skin Tyee and 20 other Nations I mentioned a moment ago. To respect B.C.’s northern communities and the thousands of individuals that have put considerable effort and due diligence to come to a decision to support LNG. We sincerely hope that relationships among Indigenous people on both sides of the issue can be mended and healed, because we believe that finding a peaceful way forward is in the best interests of everyone involved.
At the moment, I’m not convinced that it’s possible for major infrastructure projects in British Columbia to get unanimous support. Our project is a case in point.
But projects like LNG Canada provide opportunities that many First Nations and northern communities have not had before, and may not see again. The conversation about hereditary versus elected systems of governance, and which Hereditary leaders speak for Indigenous people, is a conversation I will leave to other people to resolve.
In the meantime, LNG Canada will continue to stand up for responsible resource development in British Columbia. We will continue to work to complete our project. We will continue to stand up for you to deliver the opportunity our project represents for all British Columbians and Canadians.
As a relatively recent arrival to Canada, I am worried about this country’s future.
B.C. and Canada are resource rich, but at the moment, those resources are having a very difficult time getting to market.
I believe the way forward is for the majority of British Columbians, First Nations and Canadians that support LNG and responsible resource development to demonstrate that support. The way forward is to find a way to work together in the best interests of our communities, our Nations and their members.
A fellow South African, Nelson Mandela, said, “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave person is not the one who does not feel afraid, but the one who conquers that fear.”
Given the current climate, I am humbled by the bravery we have seen demonstrated by First Nations women and men. Crystal Smith, Karen Ogen-Toews, Ellis Ross, Cliff White, Archie Patrick, Joe Bevan, Wet’suwet’en hereditary and elected leaders Helen Michelle, Vivian Tom and so many others. They have bravely stood up for LNG Canada and Coastal GasLink at a time when it has been a difficult thing to do.
I know I speak for everyone at LNG Canada, and many people in this room tonight when I say that we are proud to stand beside them. We will ensure B.C.’s abundant resources can be developed in the interests of their members, our communities, and our province.
Together, let’s stand up for LNG.
Let’s work across communities and cultures. And let’s create a future in which young people can remain living in northern communities, and take advantage of all that responsible resource development can provide.