Penelakut Tribe threatens legal action on freighters

Chemainus Valley Courier

Lack of consultation cited by Cowichan-Malahat-Langford MP MacGregor

Cowichan-Malahat-Langford MP Alistair MacGregor is seeking answers from the Liberal government about its lack of consultation with the Penelakut Tribe pertaining to freighters stationed in its traditional territory.

MacGregor brought up the question in the House of Commons last Thursday since the Trudeau government has made it such a priority to involve Aboriginal people more in some of its decision-making, but was called out for not doing that in the court decision during the Trans Mountain pipeline situation.

MacGregor referenced a letter the Penelakut Tribe sent earlier this month asking why First Nations was not consulted when the anchorages were established in their traditional territory.

“These anchorages were created without any consultation or consent from Penelakut and they will take legal action if the government does not respond today,” said MacGregor.

“The prime minister claims no relationship is more important than that with Indigenous peoples so will he immediately order the removal of these anchorages or is he prepared to fight another First Nation again in court?” he queried.

Trudeau was not in the House, but Minister of Transport Marc Garneau responded on behalf of the government.

“No relationship is more important than our relationship with Indigenous peoples,” said Garneau.

“As you know, the Port of Vancouver is an extremely busy port. We have a lot of ships that are coming to the port of Vancouver and we have had to find temporary anchorage points. We are in a period of a one-year interim study to find a better solution.

“At the moment, we have to find places for these ships to anchor and we are trying to do it by respecting local and Indigenous communities.”

Numerous freighters have been parked around the southern Gulf Islands and east coast of Vancouver Island the last several months waiting to get into the Port of Vancouver.

MacGregor has said he’ll continue to advocate for a solution to the growing anchorages problem.

Islands Trust has also called on Ottawa to reduce and ultimately eliminate freighter anchorages while complaints continue to be lodged by residents in Saltair about the noise, lights and environmental concerns.