On December 17, TransCanada’s President & CEO Russ Girling held a series of year-end interviews with several media outlets to discuss developments at the company over the last year. During that session, Mr. Girling spoke with the Globe and Mail about the overall status of the Energy East Pipeline project as well as its stakeholder and Aboriginal engagement strategy. This led to a Globe and Mail story stating that TransCanada “rejects” the idea of offering First Nations and Métis communities an equity stake in the proposed Energy East Pipeline project.
TransCanada would like to provide further context and clarify the discussion on this important topic. The transcript of Mr. Girling’s extended comments from the interview outlines TransCanada’s approach to Aboriginal engagement:
“I think each individual community is going to be unique. Today, we touch hundreds of Aboriginal communities in our current operations, so this isn’t new business for us. We need to understand how they feel about those impacts and put in place any mitigation measures that we need to put in. We need to discuss that with them and how that’s going to occur. We will actually be meeting them one-on-one and discussing those things and coming up with packages, if you will, and solutions, that are unique to each of those individual communities.”
— Russ Girling, TransCanada President & CEO
At TransCanada, we value building long-term relationships with Aboriginal communities because we believe that by working together we can help each Aboriginal community reach their specific objectives when it comes to energy development. We fully understand that each community has different needs and concerns, and as such our approach to engagement must be respectful and comprehensive to meet these needs.
In the case of Energy East, we are still in the early stages of the project development process, but we have already begun engaging with many of the 180 First Nations and Métis communities that traverse the pipeline route. Over the several months, we have begun our initial outreach work to better understand how they would like to be engaged in the project and how they can benefit from it.
Energy East is a complex undertaking as the proposed project crosses lands that are part of several different and unique types of treaties: Pre-confederation, peace and friendship, historical and modern-day. It may also impact lands that are currently involved in negotiations with federal and provincial governments. The potential impact on these lands is of great significance to First Nation and Métis communities and TransCanada is working to understand these issues and address them accordingly.
We acknowledge that resource development necessitates a new way of doing business with First Nations and Métis peoples and we are keen to explore this further. One uniform plan for First Nation and Métis peoples will not address the diversity of the Aboriginal communities we are engaging with across Canada. While many may view the equity model as a complete solution, it is not necessarily the answer to economic sustainability.
TransCanada strives to create short- and long-term employment opportunities for Aboriginal peoples impacted by project activities. We also support learning opportunities for Aboriginal peoples to provide a well-trained source of Aboriginal employees and to build capacity within Aboriginal communities. Our Aboriginal contracting strategy supports local business opportunities in procurement, pre-qualification and training. Last year, TransCanada spent more than $50 million in contracting and hiring in Aboriginal communities.
The Energy East project will be the first of its kind in Canada to connect growing oil production from Western Canada to Eastern Canadian markets. This national pipeline will mean providing opportunities and benefits to all Canadians and their communities for decades to come. By repurposing an existing piece of TransCanada’s Canadian Mainline natural gas transmission system, the project will already have more than 70 per cent of the pipeline in the ground. This will reduce our environment footprint and community disturbance across the country, while still generating billions of dollars in economic growth and benefits for all Canadians.