Site C project violates First Nations treaty rights

(OTTAWA) July 9, 2016 – The Green Party of Canada released the following statement on the 11th anniversary of the Paddle for the Peace: 

“The Paddle for the Peace has defended the natural beauty of the incredible Peace River for the past 11 years, and First Nations have been defending it for centuries,” said Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada (MP, Saanich-Gulf Islands), who participated in the Paddle for the Peace event near Fort St. John on July 9. 

“Now, the Peace River faces the imminent construction of the Site C dam, a hydroelectric project that former joint federal-provincial environmental review panel Chair Dr. Harry Swain noted is in clear violation of treaty rights for Treaty 8 First Nations. This project must be stopped.

“In my first meeting with Transport Minister Marc Garneau last year, I asked for all permits issued for Site C be made public, after which we learned that they were issued during a two-week period in the middle of the federal election. I call on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to prevent further approvals for Site C until he follows through on his promise to build meaningful Nation-to-Nation relationships with First Nations. He can start now by pointing out Site C’s treaty violations. 

“I also call on Environment Minister Catherine McKenna and Cabinet to accept the joint environmental review panel’s recommendations, and to reverse the decision by the previous Cabinet to greenlight the project. Site C is a disaster for British Columbia and the environment, falsely marketed as necessary to power the twilight industry of fracked Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG). This false claim has been debunked by Dr. Harry Swain as well. Site C must be stopped,” Ms. May concluded.


Background: Site C had an excellent environmental review under the pre-2012 Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. It went to a joint federal-provincial review. The panel was chaired by highly respected former federal deputy minister Harry Swain, and found that the project would create economic problems for B.C. The panel also found there was no demand for the energy and that BC Hydro had failed in its mandated direction to explore geothermal energy. The panel established as fact that the project would cause permanent environmental damage that cannot be mitigated and that Site C would cause permanent loss of treaty rights to Treaty 8 First Nations.

The Royal Society of Canada, our premier scientific academy, has described the Site C Joint Review Panel report as the strongest and most negative review to be ignored by government. Vast numbers of experts, First Nations and environmental groups want the Trudeau administration to reverse the ideological pronouncement of the previous Cabinet, which claimed economic importance outweighed environmental damage. 

For additional information or to arrange an interview, contact:

Dan Palmer
Press Secretary | Attaché de presse
m: (613) 614-4916