Province Puts Up $10 Million For Pro-oil First Nations Legal Fund

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney.

The Alberta government has set up a $10-million litigation fund for First Nations member groups that are taking legal action to support resource development in the province.

Premier Jason Kenney said the legal fund is a critical step in its “fight-back strategy” to get a fair price for Canada’s energy and to get pipelines built in the province.

“For too long pro-development First Nations have been ignored in the debate of resource development,” said Kenney in a news conference in Edmonton. “For too long a small minority of groups, often receiving foreign funding, have dominated the legal and political debate within First Nations over resource development.”

Kenney said he has heard from First Nations leaders who want to be partners in prosperity and a desire to be full participants in the economy and in the development of the resources below the ground.

Later today Kenney will meet with Calvin Helin, chair of Eagle Spirit Energy, a consortium of First Nations groups that support LNG projects in northern British Columbia and supported the Northern Gateway pipeline.

“This is a group of British Columbian First Nations strongly opposed to the federal Bill C-48, the so-called tanker ban, which they regard as a violation of their sovereignty. As of today, they and other groups will be able to apply for funds to defend their constitutional rights. The duty to consult Indigenous people is not limited to those who oppose development. It also includes the duty to consult and listen to and partner with First Nations who want to move their people from poverty to prosperity.”

Under the new Indigenous Litigation Fund, groups, coalitions, privately funded societies that include Indigenous peoples businesses, communities or groups can apply for a grant to help with legal matters when advancing Alberta’s energy and natural resource development interests.

Funding can be used to support various legal actions, including researching positions, developing motions, participating in trials and appeals, or intervening in processes and legal actions.

Kenney said this is another promise kept in the UCP's election platform.