If Ottawa Gives Half of TransMountain to First Nations, Shouldn't Pipeline Landowners Benefit Too?
Published in July, 2018
Since Ottawa nationalized the TransMountain pipeline and expansion project, there has been some buzz about a First Nations group subsequently "buying" it.
While it is good to see Indigenous Canadians support pipelines, this idea is not quite what it seems.
The First Nations groups involved are in fact governments. And most First Nations governments don't have a whole lot of money -- what they do have comes from federal taxpayers -- or from loans guaranteed by taxpayers.
So what this "purchase" would really amount to is a transfer of controlling interest from one government to another.
In other words, it would still be nationalized. By way of a Crown corporation with all the same challenges of actually getting anything done, or done properly.
Meanwhile, the motive behind Ottawa effectively giving First Nations 51% of the project is so Indigenous communities can benefit from development taking place on their lands.
Shouldn't Landowners Get a Piece of the Action?
Sounds like a great idea. But where is the same generosity for the roughly 2000 existing TransMountain pipeline landowners?
Surely if an equity stake is going to be given to anybody, shouldn't landowners with easements on their property be prime candidates?
Most of those easements were acquired by expropriation or the threat of expropriation. Most of these easements were "lowball" deals that inadequately addressed legitimate landowner concerns.
So now, if the TransMountain expansion actually gets underway -- admittedly still a big 'If' under government mismanagement -- thousands of directly affected private landowners will be facing new government partners on their property. With a whole new set of rules and regulations slanted in favour of government.
TransMountain pipeline landowners will be on the outside looking in at the profits flowing from the expansion, and dealing with a slew of government owners ranging from Ottawa to Alberta to dozens of First Nations.
Landowners on TMX need to insist on their property rights and demand their piece of the action through ideas like equity and tax breaks.
tags: TransMountain, TMX, expansion project, pipelines, landowners, property rights, First Nations, nationalization, Crown corporations, oil, Alberta, BC, Ottawa, business, easements, expropriation