Export Development Canada’s financing of pipelines leads to the criminalization of Indigenous land defenders
In May of this year, following the revelation of Indigenous children buried in mass or unmarked graves at former residential schools, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asked that flags at all federal buildings be flown at half-staff.
Export Development Canada (EDC), an Ottawa-based public financing/credit agency wholly-owned by the Government of Canada, lowered their Canadian flag.
At the same time, EDC finances Enbridge, Inc., the Calgary-based company that built the Line 3 tar sands pipeline that Ojibwe water protector Tara Houska has described as “a perpetuation of cultural genocide.”
Oil Change International has also noted: “EDC currently provides oil and gas companies with an average of over CAD 13 billion in support each year.”
The Toronto Star now reports: “EDC, the government’s export credit agency, says it provided financing and insurance that helped facilitate $62 billion in business for Canadian oil and gas companies from 2015 to 2020.”
Trans Mountain and Coastal GasLink pipelines
The article highlights: “EDC is funding the construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, which is estimated to cost at least $12.7 billion. The agency also made up to $500 million in loans available to the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline project.”
The Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline is being built on Secwepemc territory without free, prior and informed consent. The pipeline is being built just north of Kamloops where a residential school and mass grave is situated. The Coastal GasLink is being built on Wet’suwet’en territory also without free, prior and informed consent.
The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has called on Canada to cease construction on both these pipelines.
The Committee has also indicated that it expects to provide an update on this resolution in its periodic review due on November 15, just days after COP26 concludes.
Line 3 pipeline
Above Ground has noted that EDC has also provided up to $5.78 billion to Enbridge between January 2010 and April 2020. It further notes: “The firm aims to increase volumes of oil sands crude piped to the U.S. through its Line 3 pipeline replacement project.” That replacement project was first announced in 2014.
Over the past year, more than 800 water protectors were arrested in Minnesota resisting the construction of the last stretch of this pipeline. Enbridge provided $2.4 million to the police who brutalized and arrested these protectors.
Subsidies must end
The issue of public financing for oil and gas companies is expected to be on the agenda of the UN COP26 climate summit starting this Sunday (October 31).
The Toronto Star notes: “For Julia Levin, senior program manager of climate and energy for the advocacy organization Environmental Defence, Canada must eliminate public financing of fossil fuel projects by the end of this year.”
Earlier this week, United Nations Human Rights High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet urged action at COP26: “This is a human rights obligation and a matter of survival. Without a healthy planet to live on, there will be no human rights. And if we continue on our current path, there may be no humans.”
By subsidizing the fossil fuel industry with billions of public dollars each year, the Canadian government is continuing on that “current path” that perpetuates the criminalization of Indigenous land defenders.