Oilsands Diplomacy: January 22-24, 2014

Just one month after my presentation in Ft. McMurray at the “Energy and the Oilsands Conference” (co-sponsored by Ft. McKay First Nation and the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business) the biggest roadblock holding up the next major oilsands project was amicably resolved. That conference was a remarkable display of sophisticated First Nation empowerment that skillfully brought about a major rapprochement. Here are a couple of media articles that will put you there and give you a sense of how ‘Resource Rulers’ ultimately decide the fate of projects:

Treaty expert says natives have upper hand over development

EDMONTON – A former oilpatch lawyer and federal government regulator says oilsands companies need to re-evaluate their relationships with First Nations or risk having major projects imperilled.

“There is an elephant in the room, and it is the rise of native empowerment,” says Bill Gallagher, a strategist and consultant in Waterloo, Ont., who practised law in Calgary and conducted regulatory hearings for Petro-Canada. “My theory is whoever aligns with aboriginals before a regulatory hearing has the best chance.

Dover oil sands deal with Fort McKay band raises the bar for future projects

Bill Gallagher, a lawyer, author and expert on aboriginal issues, said the biggest winner from the agreement is Alberta Premier Alison Redford, who no longer has to pick sides.

“This is a social licence win for both parties, that takes the heat off the Alberta government,” he said. “The native endorsement of an oil sands project is a huge step on greening the oil sands internationally.”

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