Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Banking, Trade and Commerce

Issue No. 9 - Evidence - October 26, 2016

OTTAWA, Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce met this day at 4:19 p.m. to study and report on the development of a national corridor in Canada as a means of enhancing and facilitating commerce and internal trade.

Senator David Tkachuk (Chair) in the chair.

The Chair: Welcome to the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce. My name is David Tkachuk, and I am the chair of the committee.

Today is our fourth meeting on the subject of our study on the development of a national corridor in Canada as a means of enhancing and facilitating commerce and internal trade.

We are pleased to welcome today the following witnesses. From the First Nations Major Projects Coalition, we have Chief Joseph Bevan, Chair, from Kitselas First Nation; Chief Corrina Leween, Member, from Cheslatta Carrier Nation; Angel Ransom, Councillor and Member; and Del Nattrass, Economic and Financial Advisor. And from the First Nations Financial Management Board, we have Harold Calla, the executive chair and a member of Squamish First Nation.

Welcome to Ottawa. I hope you had a nice trip up and that you're enjoying the cool weather. Who wants to start? Chief Bevan, please.

Chief Joseph Bevan, Chair, First Nations Major Projects Coalition: Thank you, Mr. Chair, and good afternoon, honourable senators.

I am Chief Joseph Bevan of the Kitselas First Nation. I have the privilege to serve as Chair of the First Nations Major Projects Coalition.

Before I move to the bulk of my presentation, our group would like to acknowledge that we are conducting our business today on the traditional territory of the Algonquin people.

I also want to thank the committee for inviting us here today to talk about the work in support of the First Nation communities who are participating in the business of the Major Projects Coalition.

With me today are two members of the coalition: Chief Corrina Leween from the Cheslatta Carrier Nation and Councillor Angel Ransom from the Nak'azdli Whut'en.

Like my community of Kitselas, which is part of the Tsimshian Nation located in B.C.'s north coast region, each of our respective territories is impacted by major projects of some kind. Chief Leween and Councillor Ransom will offer their own perspectives about how these impacts are being dealt with in their communities.

Also with us today is Mr. Del Nattrass. As a former executive in the oil and gas industry, Mr. Nattrass plays a role in the development of economic options and financial perspectives to assist the coalition in assessing opportunities for First Nations to participate in major projects. Mr. Nattrass has authored some of the technical reports and is able to provide answers to questions that are of a technical nature.

The national economy and financial well-being of Canadians is directly tied to the development of our natural resources and their ability to reach export markets. Nearly 1.8 million jobs are directly and indirectly related to the natural resources of Canada, including 30,000 Aboriginal people.

If we were to look at a map of Canada and identify each proposed major project from the west to the east, what would we find? It is that with each project there are interests of First Nations people impacted by each project. If we were to take a map and draw a line across Canada representing a corridor running from the west to the east, we would find a right-of-way impacting the interests of many First Nations.

At the same time, many of those First Nations communities are struggling with systematic poverty, social issues and lower educational attainment, and many lack the opportunity to find and be trained for meaningful employment.

Can we work together to create prosperity where there is poverty? How can the business interests of First Nations impacted by major projects be accommodated in a meaningful way? What does this look like? Can it involve First Nations participating as equity owners in projects and involve us as part of the management decisions? Is there an approach to environmental stewardship and the mitigation of cumulative impacts caused by major project development that can be established in a manner that deals with the interests that are unique to First Nations?

These are the areas of work that are under consideration by the coalition. The coalition is not a project negotiation platform. We disseminate technical information provided by experts to individual First Nations who normally would not have access to this information.

The policy objectives and technical work of the coalition are designed to inform project negotiations at a community level. Our work is designed to build capacity in areas of critical need. The principles of free, prior and informed consent require investments in capacity for First Nations. We need to know what we're being asked to deal with, and we need to have the resources to properly identify the opportunities and risks for our people so that we can make informed decisions.

The need for our communities to have ongoing access to this level of technical capacity has been exemplified over the last 10 years where our communities in northern B.C. were inundated with requests from project proponents in the LNG sector. Proponents wanted answers and consent, while my community members wanted to slow things down and do what we could to carefully consider the economic benefits and environmental considerations of each project.

While market conditions have relieved some of the immediate pressure on our communities, the capacity gaps still remain and must be addressed.

Kitselas First Nation is directly impacted by 10 LNG projects, including pipelines. These include the Pacific Northwest LNG project and the Pacific Trail pipeline project. In part, it was the Pacific Trail project that became the catalyst for much of the work that the coalition is undertaking today.

The original business deal negotiated with 16 First Nations impacted the Pacific Trail, including the options for First Nations to purchase a 30 per cent equity stake in the project. First Nations were offered a true and meaningful seat at the table. We were involved early in the process and treated with respect at the table. The First Nations ultimately sold their option due to the sale of the project to another proponent, and the pipeline has not been built.

That said, we ran into deeper issues before the sale. We had the option to buy equity but could not get access to financing. We were told that it was not possible or that the interest on the loan would be equal to the rate of return of investment.

Recognizing the need to address barriers to access capital, a group of First Nations contacted the First Nations Financial Management Board and requested their assistance. Harold Calla, the Financial Management Board's chair, who is with us today and whom you will hear from, has been instrumental in providing guidance on options that will enable First Nations to overcome the barriers that have historically kept us out of participating in the economic mainstream of Canada.

The value of First Nations-led institutions, like the Financial Management Board, that provide for First Nations communities cannot be understated.

The First Nations Fiscal Management Act, which provides three First Nations institutions with their tools and purposes, including the First Nations Finance Authority, of which I am the chair, needs to be given a serious look by government as to the role that it can play in advancing the economic and social interests of First Nations beyond where we are today.

The coalition is able to provide capacity support to 23 First Nations in northern British Columbia because we were able to leverage the support, for the purposes of First Nations Fiscal Management Act, to do this work.

I want to mention also that the work of the coalition has enjoyed great support from Minister Bennett and her officials within the Lands and Economic Development branch of the Department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada.

The Prime Minister has made a central commitment on behalf of his government to the advancement of a nation-to- nation relationship with First Nations. What is that relationship going to look like? Will the improvements to the fiscal relationship between First Nations and the Crown form part of this relationship? In my opinion, they have to. We have to get to a place where First Nations are enabled to participate in the economic mainstream by taking full advantage of the economic opportunities that are occurring within our territories.

We have to start a serious conversation around the provision of government loan guarantees, access to capital for First Nations, participation in major projects. Canada has provided many forms of loan guarantees to advance a number of initiatives in different sectors important to the well-being of the national economy.

Perhaps the conversation around the establishment of a national infrastructure bank should include parameters considering access to capital requirements for First Nations looking to participate in large-scale infrastructure projects.

Recently the coalition submitted to the five big banks a straw man infrastructure project with a request for indicative financing terms and comment, and we are awaiting feedback. This request is based on an illustrative opportunity for a group of First Nations to purchase $1 billion of equity components of a $10 billion infrastructure project. If the response from the banks to the straw man request is similar to the response of the banks to the First Nations involved in the Pacific Trail pipeline project, then the need for options to consider government loan guarantees will become clearer.

Thank you for the opportunity to provide you with these remarks. I will now turn the floor over to Chief Corrina Leween to provide her comments.

Chief Corrina Leween, Member, First Nations Major Projects Coalition: Good afternoon, honourable senators. I am Chief Corrina Leween of the Cheslatta Carrier Nation.

I want to thank the members of this committee for inviting us here to speak about the work of the First Nations Major Projects Coalition. I sit as a member of the coalition's steering committee, and I enjoy the support of the membership of the Cheslatta Carrier Nation to do so.

My community is semi-remote and not located near a highway. This presents another barrier for us to participate in the type of economic development that is experienced by First Nations who are in a more urban setting.

Like many other First Nations, we have a high unemployment rate and experience the social dilemmas that are attached to being in such a situation. However, we are not without opportunity to better our lives and the lives of our people through economic development. But we cannot do it by ourselves, and we are utilizing the information and tools created by the work of the coalition to help us get to a point of capacity where we are able to make more informed business decisions. We do not have the financial resources or the expertise at the community level to analyze potential economic opportunities at the same level as the work being done by the coalition.

Cheslatta and other First Nations communities that are participating in this initiative benefit from having a forum that is non-political where matters of business related to major projects can be discussed amongst communities from across B.C.'s northern corridor.

In the case of my community, the major project impacting us and the neighbouring First Nations in the area is not a project tied to the use of fossil fuels; ours is hydroelectric.

Known as the Kenney Dam water release facility, this project is estimated at approximately $600 million. It would not only provide a substantial revenue stream for the Cheslatta and neighbouring First Nations, it would also provide significant environmental benefits by re-establishing a more natural water flow to the Nechako River.

This project is also of social and historical importance to my people, the Cheslatta. On April 21, 1952, the Cheslatta people were forced to evacuate from their traditional territory due to the flooding of the Nechako waterway by the provincial government to accommodate the corporate interests of the Aluminium Company of Canada, which is today known as Rio Tinto.

The Cheslatta people have not fully recovered from this traumatic point in our history. As a result, our population is dispersed over a large region, and our people suffer from an identity that was lost with our eviction from our original territorial home. Our culture has suffered and our language borders the point of extinction, but it is the resilience of our people and the desire to heal ourselves through economic and social self-reliance that drives our determination.

Honourable senators, we want to be able to heal and correct our social challenges as a community through economic development. In our view, the capacity-building information and the tools being created by the work of the Major Projects Coalition provide a huge benefit to this objective.

Cheslatta is but one example of one community in need to assess the capacity. There are many others.

In order for First Nations to be in a position to give appropriate consideration to their participation in major projects, the capacity field has to be levelled. We must be able to discuss, negotiate and participate in business with our partners as equals. This need is not project- or industry-specific. This need is systemic.

Whether it is the development of a national corridor, a mine, a hydroelectric facility or a pipeline, First Nations will require access to the necessary information upon which we can make an informed business decision.

First Nations will also require the ability to participate fully as partners in projects taking place in our traditional territories. The ability to arrive at options designed to address these issues represents the value that the work of the coalition brings to conversations taking place at the local, regional and national level.

Cheslatta Carrier Nation is pleased to be part of this conversation. Thank you very much for listening to me, and I will now turn the floor over to Councillor Angel Ransom.

Angel Ransom, Councillor and Member, First Nations Major Projects Coalition: Good afternoon, honourable senators. I'm Councillor Ransom from the Nak'azdli Whut'en. My community of 2,000 members is located northwest of Prince George, B.C., and is part of the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council.

In addition to my duties as councillor, I serve as a member of the steering committee for the First Nations Major Project Coalition, where I am the lead of the Environmental Stewardship Technical Team.

My background and education are in environmental planning, and I specialize in First Nations planning. I am a registered professional planner and an accredited member of the Canadian Institute of Planners. My colleagues have talked about the economic work being considered by the Major Projects Coalition. I will focus my comments on the environmental stewardship aspects of the coalition's technical work.

When it comes to considering participation in proposed major projects, the environmental impacts of such projects are a top-of-mind consideration for most all First Nations. The balancing of economic and environmental interests is complex and challenging. Matters of environmental stewardship and the mitigation of project impacts are multi- faceted.

These interests vary widely based on geographical location and the socio-cultural interests of a wide number of First Nations across the corridor, as does the capacity level of communities along the corridor, which directly impacts on their ability to consider project impacts according to Crown review process timelines.

I can speak from experience on these matters. Prior to being elected to council, I managed the Nak'azdli Whut'en LNG office. Nak'azdli is a community impacted by five major LNG proposal developments. During my time in this role I interfaced with both project proponents and government concerning the interests of my community.

Matters of environmental stewardship concerning these project proposals were carried out collaboratively with our neighbouring First Nations whenever possible. These experiences have given me a first-hand perspective on the importance of a common approach to environmental stewardship.

Identifying common approaches to environmental stewardship and developing a framework for the mitigation of cumulative environmental impacts is a main focus area for the Major Projects Coalition. Through the coalition's work, we now have First Nations located in the north, west, central and northeast regions of British Columbia sharing information and experiences regarding environmental stewardship. Prior to the establishment of the coalition, these conversations were not taking place to the same degree they are today. Our work in this regard has identified a number of common issues for which we are developing options for considerations as potential solutions.

Accessing critical expert information upon which informed decisions can be made is paramount to the principles of free, prior and informed consent.

The existing Crown processes could not provide cumulative effects assessment procedures. The current environmental assessment process focuses on project-specific impacts and does not take into adequate consideration the broader impacts of multiple projects occurring in one region.

First Nation governance must be given priority consideration. Currently, a large disconnect exists between provincial and federal systems of governance and indigenous perspectives on governance. These gaps may be bridged by developing a true nation-to-nation approach concerning the environmental regulatory and assessment processes. This includes collaboration, reconciliation, co-management, adequate capacity and funding, and joint decision making.

Developing a true First Nation-led legally binding approach to environmental assessments of major projects is not out of the question. Precedent for this exists in the case of the Woodfibre LNG, a project located in Squamish, B.C.

The Squamish First Nation conducted their own environmental assessment of the project and had the proponent agree to legally binding conditions. The proponent also agreed to pay the costs associated with this assessment. A first of its kind, a Squamish First Nation Environmental Certificate was issued to the proponent upon completion of the review. This assessment also sets the precedent of connecting a First Nation's environmental interest with its economic interests by stipulating that the proponent would accommodate these interests as part of the conditions attached to the environmental certificate.

The coalition's ability to act as a forum for First Nations to communicate with one another concerning their shared interests is assisting with the development of greater capacity for all of those involved. Government should be paying close attention to these efforts. If a national corridor is to be established, First Nations will require resources for environmental planning and land use planning and the opportunity to be at the table when the corridor is taking shape.

Solutions to First Nations' environmental concerns will need to be sought if we are to avoid further delays due to conflict and court action. It is the intention of the coalition that some of the outcomes of our work will provide options that will contribute to a made-by-First Nations solution to the gaps that exist within not only the current project assessment processes but also the issue of environmental stewardship as a whole.

It is on this note that I would like to thank the honourable senators of this committee for your time and for listening to my presentation. I would now like to turn the floor over to Harold Calla. Thank you.

Harold Calla, Executive Chair, First Nations Financial Management Board: Thank you. As was said, my name is Harold Calla. I'm a member of Squamish First Nation in British Columbia. I am also the Executive Chair of the First Nations Financial Management Board.

I want to thank the committee for agreeing to hear from me and the members of the First Nations Major Projects Coalition.

The Senate, as a house of our Parliament and a core institution of governance in Canada, has contributed greatly to the advancement of the objectives of the First Nations Financial Management Board through your support of the passage of the First Nations Fiscal Management Act in late 2005.

It is because the legislative tools and purposes of that act exist today that three members of coalition are able to be here to inform you, the Senate, how the tools and purposes are impacting those communities for the better.

It's my first time in Ottawa since I heard the tragic news about Jim Prentice, and I want to acknowledge the non- partisan support of the late Jim Prentice as opposition critic and Sue Barnes as parliamentary secretary. It was their efforts that secured the passage of this bill in 2005, and I just felt that we have to recognize that. We too often do not.

It was also due to the efforts of former Senator Gerry St. Germain, Senator Jack Austin, Senator Nick Sibbeston and others in this place who made certain the legislation became law and actually operates.

You should also appreciate that you continue to be a critical platform for continued dialogue on solutions to address the gaps in the economic and social circumstances of First Nations, and I thank you for that.

Through the efforts to establish initiatives such as the Major Projects Coalition, we are beginning to see the benefit more broadly of the full potential of the First Nations Fiscal Management Act's intended purposes. However, it will be up to government to fully embrace the new and innovative approaches being proposed by First Nation-led institutions like the First Nations Financial Management Board before we see a meaningful impact.

If embraced, these impacts will have the ability to advance the interests of both First Nation and non-First Nation Canadians and start down a path that can see First Nations prosper.

In my view, we are here today to suggest potential ways to move forward, to necessarily revitalize and advance Canada's natural resource sector, which is a major driver of the Canadian economy. We are here to say that such revitalization must include the full participation of First Nations to be successful.

If Canada is serious about developing a nation-to-nation relationship, implementing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada' recommendations and being guided by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, we have to start by acknowledging that the existing approaches in the relationship have failed, and they failed all Canadians.

We need to invest in developing First Nation economies. The rationale here is no different from the policy perspective that was made in the decision to invest in infrastructure.

In terms of major projects and First Nation interests to participate in them, will Canada be prepared to make the investments necessary to see First Nations become full partners in the mainstream of Canada's economy?

One of the things we need to appreciate when we consider all matters related to Aboriginal people is the gap that is often referred to: sixty-third versus third, the circumstances in our community.

The amount of investment that's required will never be met by transfer payments. It has to include initiatives that create economic development opportunities.

As I continue to say, we can't solve the housing problem with welfare and shelter allowances. We need to be able to create viable economies for our communities, and the oil and gas and natural resource sectors provide the greatest opportunity for that to happen in a way that can be meaningful to First Nation communities. This is a generational opportunity and one that I don't think can be ignored.

You've heard the Major Projects Coalition highlight the challenges that exist within their respective communities to become full partners in the economic and social fabric of Canada. These challenges are not isolated to northern British Columbia. The challenges are similar in nature within First Nation communities across the country where resource development is contemplated.

Court rulings have reinforced the duty to consult and accommodate First Nation interests. The duty to consult becomes greater in regions like British Columbia and other parts of Canada where treaties do not exist.

What does this mean for the development of large-scale major projects or the development of a national corridor to facilitate trade or investment? It means that if Canada is to avoid further delays to the growth of our national economic objectives, then we must have a policy framework in place that enables and directs the central agencies of government to respond to the interests of First Nations, as is being suggested by the Supreme Court of Canada.

The current mandates of central agencies are not designed to do this. We must re-evaluate the fiscal relationship between First Nations and the Crown. Where necessary, we must be willing to provide First Nations with the ability to access the capital necessary to become equity partners in the projects that are proposed in their traditional territories.

While some of these policy objectives will take time to complete, there are immediate steps that can be taken to advance the change needed to support the growth in the Canadian economy. Strategic investments and capacity development are absolutely necessary before business opportunities can really be considered by First Nations themselves.

I think that there is a role to play, and the First Nations Fiscal Management Act has proven it, in continuing to look at where we can develop First Nations-led institutions. Let us create our own futures.

The Financial Management Board has benefited from the opportunity to dialogue with Minister Bennett and her staff about some of these issues, and we enjoyed her support for the objectives of our work. But there is always a lot more to be done.

Canada should also look at the evolving and emerging institutions as bodies that have the ability to provide innovative recommendations on policy approaches that come directly from First Nations and are not being filtered through the central agency process.

Current opportunity for this kind of input is in the government's priority to develop an infrastructure bank. The government has made a commitment to grow the economy by making long-term investments in infrastructure. Budget 2016 showed a strong commitment to First Nations, with investment in housing and waste water. Still, First Nations face a disproportionate infrastructure gap compared with the rest of Canada. It is estimated that the total infrastructure gap is around $30 billion, and this is why it is critical that we move into the economic development realm to address the issues.

Mostly due to the limits of the Indian Act, the First Nations have not had the ability to access traditional sources of capital, either as public-private partnership-style investments or traditional loans, to finance infrastructure costs. They have to go cap-in-hand to the Department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs.

This is just starting to change due to the ability of a number of First Nations who are participating in the services of the First Nations Financial Management Board and the borrowing pool administered by the First Nations Finance Authority. The central role of the Financial Management Board is to certify that the financial management practices of participating First Nations are what the market requires in order for these communities to participate in a pooled borrowing environment and to benefit from FNFA debenture issues. To date, $250 million of capital has been secured at very low interest rates of less than 3 per cent.

As was mentioned earlier, the government has promised $120 billion in infrastructure spending over the next decade and is giving consideration to a large, new infrastructure bank. These investments in the creation of the bank are important, as the bank will increase the overall infrastructure investment, leading to jobs and growth, and will attract private capital and transfer some risks.

Given that the infrastructure gap for indigenous communities is so great, the government should consider parameters for an indigenous secretariat within the infrastructure bank and should set aside a portion of the funding for the bank for First Nations equity participation in major projects.

While there are numerous issues requiring attention, we have to start somewhere. The fiscal empowerment of First Nations should be a key area of focus. We put at risk our national economy by not taking steps and making the necessary investments so that First Nations can be in a position to partner and benefit from the economic activity taking place within their traditional territories.

We cannot afford to be back at this table 10 years from now saying, "Should we have done something?'' Often in these conversations, we look at the costs of providing some support, but I would invite you to look at the cost of doing nothing. If these projects are not developed, what does it mean to the tax revenue streams of Canada and the provinces? What does it mean to the cost of the social net by not having these jobs? We have to start looking much beyond just the fact that there is a number on a balance sheet. I think the cost is too great to not act now.

In closing, let me reiterate that we are to suggest possible solutions to systemic barriers facing First Nations in their relationship with Canada. There is a great opportunity for the First Nations-led institutions under the First Nations Fiscal Management Act and through the technical work of the Major Projects Coalition to collaborate with government to arrive at concrete policy solutions that advance the economic and social interests of First Nations and all Canadians.

I think the other matter that really needs to be recognized, and it's because we are so ingrained in this Indian Act band system, is that on many occasions we fail to realize there are respected, functioning traditional First Nation governments. They need to be engaged in seeking the free, prior and informed consent because in many cases they are the government within that First Nation community that has the authority to grant it, not the Indian Act band.

I think we are at a critical time, obviously. We have the benefit of a commodity market downturn, I suppose — can I characterize it as that? — because we now have time to get ourselves organized for the next boom. But we won't be organized if we don't address some of these key, fundamental issues.

First Nations in the North did talk about the concept of a corridor. And, in fact, part of what the coalition does is look at the impacts of where these projects are going to be. But what First Nations are more concerned about is this: What are the cumulative impacts on their traditional lifestyles, their resources and their lands? What are we going to get from it as Aboriginal people? I always remember the late George Watts, a leader from Vancouver Island, used to say to me, "Harold, I just want a piece of the treaties that are driving by my front door.''

And there are things like resource royalty sharing. What kind of fiscal framework are we going to create in this nation-to-nation relationship, and how does major resource development fit into that plan? These are obviously very complex issues, and there is no real, simple solution, but sometimes we have to be prepared to take some risk and understand the risks that we are taking but be prepared to take them, and start to move forward. We can't wait for perfection, and we also can't wait for everybody in the world to be on side.

Thank you.

The Chair: Thank you very much. I would like to say, witnesses, that when we undertook to have a look at the idea of a northern corridor across the country, one of the important things that we thought would be part of our study would be how we would organize ourselves knowing that we have to deal with the First Nations as we consider the corridor. So your participation here is at an excellent time, and we are extremely glad that you were able to take the time to come and present to us. I think I speak on behalf of all of our members.

I will start the questions with Senator Wallin.

Senator Wallin: Thank you, and thank you for your presentations today.

We are here, as Senator Tkachuk said, to really look at the prospect of a national corridor, whether it's mid or northern. So I guess I want to start with that one. I liked your optimism and your point here, Mr. Calla, which is that you want to take advantage of the downturn so that we can be ready for the boom. I really hope you're right. But just on a very basic point, do you like and do you agree with the concept of a national corridor?

Mr. Calla: I think that there needs to be a corridor, and I think a national corridor does make sense.

I think there are some issues related to a national corridor that we have not yet touched on, and it goes to the very heart of the fiscal financing relationship between First Nations and the Government of Canada.

If I'm in an area where there is currently a project but where the corridor is not going to be, and I lose my opportunity, what does that mean? I think there are some issues. I think we do not want to find a spaghetti of corridors running through all our traditional territories. I think most people acknowledge that. The challenge we face on the West Coast on many of these issues is what the cumulative environmental impacts are. This year, if you're from the West Coast and you went fishing, there weren't many. There was this big blob in the Pacific Ocean for most of it.

How do we deal with those issues? Yes, I think people want to see something because they know oil and gas is going to move somewhere.

Senator Wallin: I'd like to hear from others, if we could, on this. One of our first witness panels in this study was two academics who are looking for money from somewhere — the government, anywhere — to try and fund a project to even look at the viability of what will no doubt be a multi-billion-dollar project on some level. What you folks have put on the table today — government-guaranteed access to capital infrastructure spending, duty to consult, mitigation of cumulative effects, assessment — these are huge dollar signs. At this point we don't even have the money to fund the study by two academics in Calgary to see whether we can even get it started.

I understand the issues, but are we putting up so many roadblocks — financial roadblocks — that we can't even get to the first discussion of this? Whoever wants to comment, please.

Mr. Calla: I think we're trying to tell you what would be required to achieve it. There's a technical piece of work, there's a political piece of work, and there's an environmental piece of work, and I think how you choose to do those, in what steps, is a matter for consideration. But you will not get to First Nation acceptance of any kind of a corridor unless you deal with the issues that we put forward to you today.

Mr. Bevan: In our territory, we had a criss-cross of some 10 proponents all going throughout our territory in two different directions. We thought, "Why don't you hold one corridor and put those pipelines through?'' I think if it had been done that way, it wouldn't have impacted the whole territory. It would have been two or three proponents going through that one area of a corridor, and it would have been a lot more acceptable than the way we saw them going at it.

I saw some of the material that they had given my resource crew to review, and thank God —

Senator Wallin: I'm sorry, but by "they'' you mean particular corporate interests?

Mr. Bevan: Proponents, some of the 10 LNG proponents that were coming through my territory, or proposed to come through my territory.

There was a lot of information to disseminate, and thank God we had the capacity to review it. We notice a lot of other First Nations don't have that capacity, and they didn't understand. We had to start at the basic level with our own people and educate them on what LNG is. LNG 101, 201, 301. We had one third support when we first started. By the time we were done, we had two thirds support, which gave us our mandate to negotiate with LNG proponents.

All it took was some basic education, some really high-level stuff. We were delving in deep. We were saying, "Here is what this means.'' When we did that, like I said, we noticed a dramatic increase in the support for these projects, and they didn't see them as intrusive.

Senator Wallin: That's interesting.

Ms. Leween: Just from a grassroots perspective and from a community that is not exactly in the pipeline area, in order for us to support or to provide any kind of environmental impacts to any of the territories that we live on, we need to gather our First Nations back home and come together and provide that background information of their territories. Our coalition is trying to gather all that information together so that we can support each other or we can provide information for a table such as this so we can move forward.

To me, at the grassroots level, it's about gathering all that information so that we can actually support each other.

Senator Campbell: I'd like to apologize for my being late today. I'd like to hire both your organizations to figure out how to build a corridor between Parliament Hill and here during rush hour. And I will raise the money for it.

To all of my colleagues here, this is an example of why B.C. leads in First Nations governance, First Nations vision and First Nations opportunities. These two groups right here are the gold standards, as far as I'm concerned, for Canada and for a new relationship that I've been hearing about for virtually all of my life, certainly when I was in Vancouver.

With regard to the corridor, I was thinking about this the other night. We always talk about consent and sharing information, and I thought if the Squamish First Nation was a business and I wanted to go across your land to do something, there would be no question of the negotiations that would go on and the sharing of information. Why do we have such a difficult time doing that between governments, between the First Nations government and the Canadian government, and especially on something that I believe is probably the most important infrastructure project since the railway went across Canada? Why do we have such a difficulty?

Mr. Calla: Senator, thank you for the question. I think until recently it's because Canada never accepted the responsibility to engage. Instead it was put upon proponents.

About four years ago I was trying to cross the country with the Public Policy Forum to engage in conversations across the country on First Nation participation and major project development, and there's a report that I'm sure you've seen. One of the outcomes of that was industry saying to government, "You're putting this off on us? We think it's your responsibility.''

Part of what we're proposing with this initiative would allow Canada to support First Nations equity participation, fulfil that duty, and then advance these things in a way that meets First Nations interest.

There's no place to start the conversation, and the conversation has to start with Canada taking a leadership role, in my view.

Senator Campbell: I accept that. But also we have industry come before us, and sometimes it's a cop-out to me. Industry says, "You're not doing this,'' and I refer to other business deals where, business to business, they got the deal done.

I agree that it's Canada's responsibility, but it's also industry's responsibility to realize that the bottom line is what the First Nations want. If you do not address the First Nations issues, this corridor is dead. That's the position that I think we have to come to.

So how do we assist the finance group and the coalition in moving across Canada?

Chief, you were right. If five companies come and they all want to build in a different spot on my land, "Sorry, this is not going to go; this isn't a starter.''

Would you agree that this is one of the difficulties we have? We take a look at the pipeline in British Columbia and it's, "No, no, no, no,'' and it's, "Oh, you are doing it.'' No, no, and we haven't got that out that, in fact, it's way bigger than that. It's industry; it's governments.

How do we change that so that we can start? Without support, without a partnership, it will go nowhere, and we're wasting our time here. How do we go about that?

Mr. Bevan: I would like to see some more resources put towards capacity development for some of those First Nations who don't understand. Of course, you're talking to the willing here, so I have no issues with it because I've researched it. I have had my own people working on it and scientifically have proven that this is a good decision for us. What we did with our people is we stopped making it an emotional decision and made it more of a scientific decision by giving them that education, and it changed everything.

I tried to tell other First Nations that you can't just walk away; you have to engage. You have to go and talk to them and see what they're talking about, but a lot of them don't understand. They don't have the understanding that we have and sometimes don't have good negotiators at their table, on their side, so they're negotiating on their own.

I think if we put more capacity funding towards helping these nations out, we would probably get a bit more acceptance. I'm not saying all of them, but that last 10 per cent would probably come a little easier had we had a little more capacity funding added instead of throwing proponents at them and saying, "Here are four big binders of information; go work it out on your own territory.'' As I said, that would just confuse them even more. We had the capacity to go through it.

Mr. Calla: I think the biggest challenge we have faced to this point is that First Nations have had to react to proposals. We have not been organized to be able to be proactive, and you're playing in the big leagues here. There are six, eight or ten real oil companies on earth, so we're playing in the big leagues.

I think that in order to function at that level, we need to have the expertise of people like Delbert Nattrass. In the oil and gas conversations in British Columbia, no one was talking about the value chain of these projects, what they meant and what you should be looking for. How can smaller communities, some of whom may be in financial difficulty at home and don't even have an accountant, afford an expert like Delbert Nattrass?

So the vehicle has to be provided, and that's what the coalition did, provided a vehicle for this kind of information to be gathered to determine what you are being asked to make a decision on. What's in it for you? What are the risks and impacts, those kinds of things?

First Nations to this point have often been asked to pick a winner and a loser before there's even a final investment decision. Many of the agreements that are signed have exclusivity arrangements. I've always felt that if we do our due diligence and get the capacity to do our due diligence, we put out a term sheet.

Ms. Ransom: I wanted to add that when you're in a situation such as my community of Nak'azdli Whut'en and you have one project and then two, and then three, four and five all happening concurrently and you request to have it slowed down a little bit because we're feeling we're making decisions under duress and lacking capacity and we're expected to review 28,000 pages of documentation within 30 days and provide an informed understanding of that, quite often you're going to end up in the position where communities don't have the capacity or understanding of what is being presented, and therefore they back out. We've always said that we need to do this jointly, to do the preplanning of a project and not do them all at once.

I think involving First Nations in the preplanning of any project, such as the identification of location and working in maybe a corridor approach with other nations that would like to take that approach, would be very helpful. That's all I have to say at this time. Thank you.

The Chair: Before we go on to the next question, how many First Nations are there in the coalition?

Ms. Ransom: There are 23.

The Chair: All northern B.C.?

Ms. Ransom: Yes.

Senator Campbell: Thank you for coming. You honour me from British Columbia. You're doing a fantastic job.

Senator Day: I feel exactly the same as my colleague Senator Campbell. I'm quite excited to hear what you're doing and what you've had to say here today. Coming from New Brunswick, I haven't seen or heard this kind of cooperation.

You talk, first of all, about the coalition. Chief Leween, the exchange of information is a critical part of all this so that you can work together, but developing a bargaining position and the strength of bargaining together is another very important part of this coalition that I find very exciting with what you're doing. So thank you very much for being here and helping us in that regard.

I'm looking at Chief Bevan's remarks. You said, "How can the business interests of the First Nation impacted by major projects be accommodated in a meaningful way?'' Those are wonderful words, and I think you should continue to talk that way. You want to be equity owners in the project. Again, to me, that is absolutely the future.

You talk about financing and your need for funds and that the transfer payments just aren't enough to allow you to do what you want to do. Maybe it was Mr. Calla who was talking about the First Nations Financial Management Board and the First Nations Fiscal Management Act. Is that funded, and if so, funded by whom? How do you access those funds?

Mr. Bevan: Speaking to our business interests, when the Pacific Trail pipeline project went through and we had an opportunity to get a direct award from them and cleared a right-of-way, my development corporation over a two-and- a-half-year time period made close to $50 million just clearing a right-of-way, hired every able-bodied person in the whole reserve and changed the attitudes of about 10 or 20 people who said, "Wow, I could work.'' It changed their self- esteem. They decided they wanted to go back to school after this because they wanted to work even harder and longer in this industry.

Then I had some of the elders saying, "We are negotiating a treaty, the land and cash offer was $24 million and we just made close to $50 million in two and a half years. Oh, my God. Why am I going for a treaty? Why don't I just go and work for it?'' That's why, when we started off, we started thinking, "Wow, this could be a game changer if we get more of these projects going on.''

Of course, I have a finance background, and that's why I know the numbers very well. We took a governance approach to all of these companies that were coming at us, all 10 of them. We developed a stewardship policy, basically a good land-use decision. Based on that, we started parallel negotiations. You call them IBAs; we call them impact management and benefit agreements, because we manage the project through these agreements, starting off with, of course, the environment, training and education for our people, business procurement, and lastly, benefits for the whole community.

I know the value of these projects. I've seen it myself. Of course we want one of these projects. We want an FID. There are more nations that are changing the way they do business because they realize that transfer payments alone are not going to change anything. We have to work for it. When you work for it, you appreciate it more and you want more of it. You change the society of your nation. You change the way it thinks. Instead of sitting back waiting for my cheque to come in, you're going to go out and grab it, take it and chase it. That was the attitude change that we saw, and that was just one small project. That was just 110 kilometres of right-of-way clearing.

Then with our neighbours, the Haisla Nation, we started working together on projects, and that was something unheard of because we seem to butt heads a lot. It's like the pie syndrome; we're all chasing the same piece of pie and there's only so much of it to go around. I said, "If we work together we could take the whole pie, so let's stop fighting with one another.''

The Chair: Wise words.

Mr. Calla: I want to respond to the second question. You've got the chairs of the First Nations Financial Management Board and the First Nations Finance Authority here, and the legislation created a pool borrowing environment in which First Nations came together — I guess I could describe it like a credit union — and they support one another. We constructed through the legislation a framework for pool borrowing that was reviewed by rating agencies and investment banks, and the First Nations Finance Authority was granted a single A credit rating on the first issue because of the controlled framework that we have.

That is supported by Canada, the institutions are funded by Canada, and we provide the organizational capacity development that's required. Much of what is needed to participate, even in economic development and financing, is to develop the management capacity which many small communities don't do. We're doing some good work with the department right now through the minister, and how do you de-aggregate this, much like we're doing with the coalition, to create this capacity within First Nation communities.

But we've created the structure, and we think Canada should use that structure. You've invested in the development of these institutions, we've proven that they are working, and we think that major projects provide yet another opportunity to support these institutions in helping First Nations develop their organizational capacity.

We have a great relationship with the Aboriginal financial officers of Canada who develop individual capacity developments, so we get trained people working in those communities.

So we're working on it. It's a work-in-progress; it's going to improve. It took us a couple hundred years to get to where we are today. It's going to take us a few years to get to a different place, but we're starting, and it's been thanks to the non-partisan part of the work that we've been able to do in Ottawa. You've all been very supportive.

Senator Day: It is a very specific question. A corridor for transmission lines or a road is going to require rights-of- way, and those rights-of-way are going to go over your traditional territories. Is there anything in the Indian Act or any other legislation that prevents you from giving up a right-of-way for the corridor? Because a right-of-way is going to have to be acquired. If you can give this right-of-way, is that not worth quite a bit of money that you could use to invest in the project, to get in the equity position?

Mr. Bevan: Well, you have section 35 of your Aboriginal rights. If you're going to be impacting somebody through a corridor, I don't think the Indian Act would come into effect there. I think it's section 35 rights that most people are fighting for when it comes to that. So that's kind of the issue there. It's not really the Indian Act per se.

Mr. Calla: I don't think you need to have First Nations surrender the land into a fee simple status. What you're looking for is tenure, and I think those arrangements can be struck in a way that gives industry and government the confidence that the right-of-way will be there. The Squamish Nation has had a sewage treatment plant on its lands for about 60 years for Metro Vancouver. It's functioned on rights-of-way that are in effect reserve lands, and those arrangements have worked out favourably.

So it doesn't need to be given up. Does everybody want fee simple land? Absolutely. But sometimes you don't always get what you want.

Senator Tannas: Thank you all for being here. I'm privileged to be on the Aboriginal Affairs Committee, so I have crossed paths with some or all of you. I'm so thrilled that other colleagues are getting a chance here to experience the expertise. The fact that we have thought leaders and action leaders for all of Canada here is a real honour.

What we've learned so far in the few meetings that we've had is that we're really in on the ground floor of this thing. There have been a couple of books, a professor and a retired general who came up with this idea 50 years ago, and that's it. Nothing has been done.

So we're in an unusual spot, where we are really at the beginning of the molecules just starting to move. So that in and of itself is I think exciting to us, and I hope it will engage your minds as well.

The idea of this corridor with transmission for electricity, from wonderful dams, hydroelectric that can be done, pipelines, fibre optics, highway and railway, all those kinds of things, to me, speaks to the economic development opportunities that go along there.

If you look at the Canadian Pacific Railway and all the towns and industry that have sprung up along that railway, we're now talking about a new opportunity for the next 200 years that could spin off that. And it's in Indian country, if you will.

That's wonderful. I think it's a neat opportunity. So we've got these two professors who have a pretty good suggestion or proposal as to where to go next with this. There still needs to be some work at the academic level to kind of bring this forward. I'd be very surprised if we didn't recommend that somebody fund the next level of viability study.

I'd be interested to know your thoughts as to whether we should be recommending that that study be expanded and maybe propose a framework for discussion and thought as to how First Nations will achieve or could achieve an economic benefit from, or even, frankly, economic control of, this corridor in some way, or economic participation, however you want to put it. I mean, that thinking needs to be going on.

I worry about the history of this. It has been raised twice before and kind of collapsed under the sheer weight of someone imagining how hard it will be to get it done. Imagine in today's environment, with the increased attention to environmental concerns and the potential attempts to negotiate on a single First Nation by First Nation basis all the way across the country. It will collapse again very quickly. Do you think we should try to tackle this as well in the study, at the very early stages of viability, and if so, could you give us some suggestions about how, or who should participate in that?

Mr. Bevan: Definitely some of the First Nations who are early to sign on to these projects, who have negotiated and have signed on and said, "Look, I've gone through the information and this is what I see. I have the tools to make that decision. But my neighbour here doesn't have the capacity that I do.'' So there again if they had a tool box of information that just said that it's a mining project that affects six First Nations all within the vicinity, and you kind of got them together, you're going to have some that say yes and some that say no, but you need to find out what's important to them.

Some will say, "We still live off the land.'' Some will say, "We do and we don't.'' I think we need to find out what's important. Is it jobs that are important? Because we didn't know at first until we put everyone to work, and then we saw the change. Like I said, the guy has a steady paycheque now. He's done it for two and a half years, and now it just built up his self-esteem. He's got everything he wants. Now that he has everything he wants in his house, it's time to say, "How do I continue on with that? Well, I think I need to get further education and a job and work at this full-time because I like the work and I like the steady paycheque.''

You have to change the attitudes, and sometimes that takes a bit of work, and sometimes it's all self-driven. It's up to that individual person. We say to our people, "Look, we'll help bring the opportunity, but it's up to you to take it.''

That's what worked for Kitselas, anyway. As for some of the other nations, sometimes it's tough to get them to work together because we have different ideas on how to move things forward for our nations. I think if we had that tool box of information sitting there waiting for us, such as what we're trying to develop with the coalition, then I think it would go a lot smoother when they come to us and say, "Hey, Joe, there is a big mine that wants to start up in my territory. What should I be watching for? What are some of the issues with the environment that would hamper my decision? Where should I be concerned?''

I think if we had that information readily available, then they would not be so worried. Right now you are asking them to make a decision that they have never had to make before. It will affect generations, and we have never had to make those decisions. Usually they are kind of imposed on you, and that's it, moving right along, thank you very much. Now we need to change those, and I think it's changing those attitudes.

It's really funny, but thinking of some of the people we've seen at the beginning of this, one thing sticks out and I'm going to use it because Jim Prentice said it. He said, "It's not what is right, and it's not what you deserve; it's what you negotiate. At the end of the day, that is what you get.''

I love those words and I stick with those every day and say, "Yeah, he's right. It's what we negotiate at the end of the day.''

Mr. Calla: You asked the question: Do you deal with these issues up front? I think the answer is yes. If you're going to be recommending that somebody undertake some work, I think the terms of reference of what's involved in it have to involve an engagement with First Nations at the very beginning. If you come forward with a volume report and say, "Here it is,'' it will not get standing in First Nations communities.

As Chief Bevan said, some people will not support any of this, and there are some who do. Not everybody supported the First Nations Fiscal Management Act, and we came to a conclusion in the development of that legislation that there would be scheduling. There was some great concern over how many would actually become part of the First Nations Fiscal Management Act, and you should know there are now over 205 or so First Nations across Canada who asked to be scheduled to the act, and we anticipate that will grow over the next five years. Hopefully, one day, everyone might.

A lot of it has come as a consequence, as Joe has said, of there being economic opportunity that people never saw before. We don't need to become better managers of poverty. We do that pretty well. Give us a shot at wealth.

Senator Tannas: If we send off a couple of academics to study this, who should they consult to try and get to the next level? Is there a resource? Who do you think? You don't have to tell us today, but if you could give any suggestions to the clerk after giving it some thought, can we point them in your direction?

Mr. Calla: You can point them in the coalition's direction, because I think the coalition needs to grow to become something that establishes broader geographic roots.

Senator Tannas: That's your ambition and your mandate?

Mr. Calla: Yes.

Senator Tannas: Great.

Senator Ringuette: This certainly is impressive. I understand that you want to build on this capacity fund. You have managed to establish trust in your analysis of the different projects. You have established trust within the First Nations community, and you have also established, and will be establishing more, recognized experts in this coalition, so this is really great.

You are proposing a framework option to facilitate a government loan guarantee to First Nations for equity investment in proposed large-scale projects. Have you looked at other potential financial tools, for instance, a mutual trust, some kind of venture capital setup or even a dollar match to set up this pool in addition to the bond? There are probably some limits with regard to the cash that you can acquire through the bond. Have you looked at other financial scenarios to say, "This is what we want?''

Mr. Calla: Thank you for the question. Actually, that was a point that I missed.

Yes, we have looked at them. One of the things to appreciate is that the scale of these projects now has outstripped any cumulative balance sheet of a group of First Nations and most corporations in this country. One of these major projects that was, I think, the size of the proposed Shell project was a $37 billion to $40 billion project. The equity thresholds that have been established in the Pacific Trail pipeline project and Mackenzie Valley were 30 per cent and 33.3 per cent.

I think that the sheer scale of what is required is problematic. Venture capital could work, but as Joe said, when they went to the markets to look for $300 million for the Pacific Trail, the capital markets wanted the rate-regulated return of 11.25 per cent, so there was nothing left for them.

We could have a whole discussion with Del Nattrass on the risk and all the rest of it, but we think we've developed an approach, through the First Nations Fiscal Management Act, in having intercept and trust accounts, that minimized the risk. We are not suggesting that Canada will be in a position where every project that comes forward will be eligible for a federal loan guarantee. I don't know that that would ever be the case. Policy work would be required on the part of the federal government to establish the criteria for a federal loan guarantee.

We've shared some models with, I think, the Aboriginal Peoples Committee. For example, in the United Kingdom in 2008, when they needed to stimulate their economy, through legislation they established a £50 billion trust for loan guarantees for infrastructure development. There are many ways and means to accomplish this.

It can also be accomplished by the Government of Canada making something on its balance sheet. I know that some of you may know that I served on the board of CMHC for six years. I was on the board during the 2008 crisis and saw the support that came from CMHC in supporting the banking community by buying back insured mortgages in a reverse auction.

Canada has an ability to do it. I'm not saying it's not without risk, but the biggest benefit that comes from the approach that we're considering is the cost of borrowing. In the case of the Pacific Trail, the First Nations Finance Authority could have loaned them that money at around 3 per cent, instead of 11.25 per cent. What Canada brings to the table is the ability to get that cheap money and to make that benefit.

So a question back to you, in response to this, is how does Canada fulfill its duty? Does Canada want to take some calculated risk on supporting equity acquisition? Or do we not want to do that and have the results that Chief Joe spoke about at a community level and see an increase in the cost of the social net and the tragedies that are occurring in our communities on a daily basis?

Sometimes it's more than just clinical. I'm an accountant, so it's hard for me to even say this, but it's not just a spreadsheet process.

Senator Ringuette: In reality, you seem to be advocating for two different financial tools: one financial tool for large- scale projects — that would be a one-on-one situation in negotiating with the federal government — and then another tool for smaller-scale investment.

Mr. Calla: We have some tools now with the First Nations Finance Authority. It's there, but I think there is a case to be made for what is a major project, and what is a major impact. We should move away from the concept of project to what will have a major impact.

If you look at Chief Leween's project and how it would support a gold mine not far from there by supplying it with power, all of a sudden that project is upwards of $1 billion to $1.5 billion. That can be replicated right across the country in many First Nation communities who are not going to be impacted. So I think there is a broader discussion.

Senator Ringuette: For instance, your hydro project that was just mentioned, that would come under the existing flow of financing available?

Mr. Calla: It couldn't.

Senator Ringuette: It couldn't?

Mr. Calla: Those projects need to be bundled.

The Chair: Provinces back municipalities all the time.

Mr. Calla: Not in British Columbia.

The Chair: It does in our province. They back municipalities to get them lower interest rates.

Mr. Calla: It does, but in British Columbia, they wouldn't do it. In British Columbia, the Municipal Finance Authority of British Columbia has a AAA credit rating and never had a failure in its 40 or 50 years of existence. It's what we modelled the regime of the First Nations Fiscal Management Act after.

Senator Smith: I just wanted to follow up on Senator Tannas's point.

We had two academics that came and made a presentation. Before they came, we did some research and found out there was a book written in 1967 on a project that was presented to Pierre Elliott Trudeau, which was turned down, with this concept of a mid-Canada. It went between the fiftieth and sixtieth parallels across the country. It started in Labrador, through the Ring of Fire in northern Ontario, Manitoba, and then up through Saskatchewan and Alberta, up into the Mackenzie Valley and then split off around Prince Rupert.

We have people who say, "We have a concept,'' and then we brought in other people who have similar concepts and everyone studied this.

Are you folks aware of this particular concept development that has taken place?

Mr. Bevan: I've heard of it myself, yes.

What I was going to suggest was that perhaps we start looking at bands that are not in agreement and ask, what it would take?

Senator Smith: My point, if I could just lead into it through Senator Tannas's point, is here we have a concept. The concept will cost money because they have to do mapping and check the lands for what type of engineering would have to take place. This is a 7,000-mile corridor that starts in one end of country and ends in the other.

Conceptually, the next step is it would be helpful, before a study took place, that we would have awareness amongst all the nations.

My understanding is there are 640 nations across the country. The next question that comes to mind is how do we get people to understand this so that at least they would be interested in participating to see what the outcome of this report plan would be? Because the report plan would give a rough estimate of the cost of putting in rail, putting in a pipeline and transmission lines, the timing, climate change, the lands that you will cross and the construction.

If there was a willingness to understand the concept and to participate in making sure that there was a sharing of information so that you folks would understand exactly what this is all about, would that be a helpful tool to have which could lead into a stepped, preplanned and planning process with checkpoints along the way that would bring in First Nations, and not only educate and develop a relationship but a true understanding of what the pros and cons are so that you would have a balanced look at this project and be an active participant? Do you see where I'm coming from?

These guys said to us, "We have this concept. We need $800,000 to $1 million to do it.'' The issue is how to get money for them.

I would assume one of the big issues would be if we could get you folks involved at the beginning, because this is more than singular or multiple projects on the lands that you folks influence or control. We are talking about a national corridor, which is a right-of-way, which allows the set-up, and then after that you are going to get the existing people.

How do I look into that particular network across the country? If we had informed folks who would say, "Hey, there is some interest here,'' how do we develop that interest for you folks to be participants in the development of that project?

Ms. Ransom: I will make a comment. I have been sitting here and thinking about this the whole time.

First, we don't want to be an active participant; we want joint decision making — I will put that out there — an involvement in such a concept.

My thoughts on how to even start a conversation is by maybe putting the idea out there. At least I have heard this back home.

The benefits of concentrating development into one corridor makes sense, because this approach not only contributes to minimalizing environmental and cumulative impacts but also in turn benefits First Nations across the country because it allows First Nations to continue conducting our Aboriginal practices and increase the management protection and governance of our territories throughout our territories rather than having to react to 100 different projects across. If we can concentrate it, we can continue doing our normal Aboriginal practices as we would throughout our territory.

Just simple food for thought.

The Chair: That's pretty good.

Senator Smith: Would you be able to write that up in a one-pager and send it to us? It would be helpful if you would write that up and send it to our clerk.

The Chair: It's recorded. We transcribe all these.

Ms. Leween: In addition to what Angel has said and in regard to a question that was asked earlier about the number of bands that are involved in the coalition, currently it's 23, but just a note of clarification that we have been approached by Alberta and Saskatchewan bands to bring our presentation over to them. So the word is spreading.

When we talk about going out there and bringing this through the entire corridor, actually the major coalition has already started that process. I just wanted to mention that.

Mr. Calla: I think one of the points you raised, Senator Smith, is excellent. Wouldn't it be nice if First Nations had an institutional framework which they could work from that was not an Indian Act band governance structure? Where are our central agencies?

To do what you want to do will require a national secretariat and a national organization. There are a number of Indian organizations that could participate in this. There is the Indian Resource Council that's based out of Calgary that's involved in this.

To the point that was raised by Angel, there isn't a willingness to engage in a process that we are not an equal partner in any longer. Hence my point in the beginning: If you are going to commission some work, then it has to be done jointly, or it won't have the ability to influence.

Something I didn't advise you of is that one reason we are doing this through the First Nations Fiscal Management Act is there is a potential for pretty significant wealth transfer coming from these projects into First Nation communities. The financial management capacity and management skills that come through our certification process and the ability to leverage those downstream benefits through the First Nations Finance Authority to deal with some of the challenges that First Nation communities face is one of the reasons why we're so keen on this.

You can't do anything without money.

Senator Smith: I recognize what you're saying. I realize probably historically over time there have been a lot of fits and starts and things that have never taken place to develop the actual outcome that you folks wanted.

The issue is how much are people willing to risk to participate at the beginning of something that will evolve? None of us at this table realistically would have clearly the knowledge of where it would end, but if people went in with good faith and leadership on both sides and awareness so that if there are traps or follies or misunderstandings along the way there could be solutions, then to me there is an opportunity to do something that's transformative.

We are talking about something that will change the face of this nation for the next 100 or 200 years. It will not be easy, but what is needed is folks like you who have taken the leadership and initiative and have spread that word amongst your people. For us, we have to find support. Whoever will do the study, we have to find somebody who will step up and say, "Okay, I'll contribute,'' and once you get somebody who steps up, someone else will come in, and that's how you build multiple involvements.

I respect the fact that you said you're not going to do it unless you get something. I realize that, but the fact of the matter is that if a study is done, we need to have your participation and your ability to spread that word out amongst the other nations. You are right that some will say yes and some will say no, but hopefully more will say yes as they see the potential of what could come from this project.

Mr. Calla: In the development of four pieces of legislation that moved First Nations outside the Indian Act that I've been involved in since the 1990s, we have always found ourselves having to get a coalition of the willing. We have found that when people can see the merit of why the initiative that we've undertaken can help them, they will become involved.

It was both coasts that supported the development of this legislation and very few in between. If I were to show you a map today, we are spread right across the country because they now have opportunity. I would respectfully suggest that that will be how it starts. You will start with the people who are prepared to ask, what if? I don't know what happens from that point, but that's up to the communities to decide.

Senator Tannas: Playing off of what Senator Smith was saying and trying to figure out how we do this, would it be welcome, or not rejected out of hand, if one of our recommendations was that the funding be made available to the University of Calgary School of Public Policy? That is where the academics are who did the initial work, and that report, by the way, is extremely interesting, if you can get it. We can get it to you, in fact. We'll get it to you. They are looking for $800,000 to go the next step.

What if our recommendation was for that and also for the First Nations Major Projects Coalition to be funded equally in order to concurrently examine what the viability might be for some kind of an economic structure that would apply from Labrador to British Columbia? That's what we're talking about. I can't see that we can cut à la carte deals all the way across the country. There has to be something that almost goes to the opt-in, opt-out kind of thing. I don't know.

If we made that recommendation and specifically named your coalition as someone that we would like to see funded to be a partner in this, would that be welcomed by you?

Mr. Bevan: Quite honestly, I would have to take that back to the members of the coalition and ask them for their willingness to participate in a study such as that and see what the thoughts were around the table of moving forward with something like that.

Senator Tannas: I'm conscious that we are nowhere near that yet, but would you give that thought and respond hypothetically, "Yes, we would or no we would not, but these might be the guys you should talk to''?

Is that okay, chair?

The Chair: Good question. It's up to them to answer it.

Senator Day: I think it's important for the record to recognize the work that Ms. Ransom mentioned in balancing the economic and the environment and how important that is in this mix that we're talking about. I congratulate you for that work that you're doing.

Ms. Ransom: Thank you.

The Chair: I would like to thank Chief Bevan; Chief Leween; Councillor Ransom; Economic and Financial Adviser Nattrass; and Harold Calla, Executive Chair of the First Nations Financial Management Board for this great presentation today. I was forewarned by former Senator St. Germain that it would be a great presentation, and as usual, he did not fail me.

I have a couple of notes, senators, before we say goodbye to our guests. The original author General Rohmer will be here on November 17. That will be kind of exciting. Tomorrow we were supposed to have the Department of Indigenous and Norther Affairs here, and they cancelled at the last minute, unfortunately, but we are going to reschedule them.

We have a witness from Perth, Australia, who will talk about some of their ruminations and discussions on a national corridor. We have him by video conference at 10:30 tomorrow morning.

(The committee adjourned.)