The BC Energy Plan states the provincial government is "working every day to ensure" its energy and oil and gas resource management strategies include "First Nations interest, knowledge and values." In fact, according to Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources Minister Rich Neufeld, the plan was developed following more than 100 meetings with key stakeholders - including First Nations interests. But it seems that consultative process has been found somewhat wanting.
Speaking on Public Eye Radio, First Nations Summit political executive member Dave Porter said, "When you examine the New Relationship process that we've established with the Premier of British Columbia, it clearly states that the government of British Columbia will be doing business differently - that it would be honouring its relationship with the First Nations by consulting with First Nations on all major policy issues, all major resource development decisions. And, in this instance, the government has not met its obligation. And the government should be asked at to why it's not discharged its commitment to the New Relationship."
Continued Mr. Porter, "One would assume the premier of the province and his office does, in fact, acknowledge and is committed to this New Relationship. But I suspect that one of the problems that is inherent in the government is that a lot of the individual ministries and the folks that are charged with responsibility for developing policy have not got the message. And this New Relationship has not filtered through the government. And that's government's responsibility to make that happen. And, clearly, in this instance we have not seen that commitment brought into effect in the development of this energy plan."
Mr. Porter says the First Nations community will be examining that plan at an upcoming energy and environment summit, scheduled for April 2, 3 and 4. And during that summit, "we will make clear to government our views on that plan and a discussion about how that plan must be amended to take into account First Nations interests." The meeting will also result in the development of a First Nations energy plan and an organization that will, on behalf of aboriginal people, "directly engage the public governments - as well as industry - on the development of energy plans, energy strategies, energy policies here in British Columbia."