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HomeMiscellanyExclusive: Alberta NDP bought pro-pipeline ads on anti-Kinder Morgan First Nation’s billboards

Exclusive: Alberta NDP bought pro-pipeline ads on anti-Kinder Morgan First Nation’s billboards

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Bob Mackin

The Alberta government has bought pro-Kinder Morgan ads on billboards at the reserves of a First Nation that is vehemently opposed to the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion. 

The Keep Canada Working campaign that broke April 30 is on rotation at the Squamish Nation’s digital billboards near major Metro Vancouver bridges, such as the Lions Gate Bridge and Burrard Bridge. 

Alberta’s pro-Kinder Morgan ad on a Squamish Nation billboard near the Lions Gate Bridge (Mackin)

“Trans Mountain Pipeline means more money for roads, schools and hospitals” says one of the bright, red ads, which features the campaign website and a doodle of buildings and flowers. 

The three-metre by nine-metre LED billboards were erected before the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. They are managed by Allvision Canada Co. and operated by Bell-owned Astral Media. A 2010 news release quoted Squamish Nation chief Bill Williams saying the billboards would generate $50 million for the tribe. 

Cheryl Oates, spokeswoman for Alberta NDP Premier Rachel Notley, told theBreaker that $1.29 million of taxpayers’ money has been spent so far on advertising to counter the B.C. NDP government’s opposition to the project. More than $707,000 of that has been spent in British Columbia.

On April 8, Kinder Morgan announced suspension of federally approved work to expand the pipeline. It blamed continued opposition from the B.C. government, which is unlikely to meet the company’s May 31 deadline to change course. On April 26, Premier John Horgan formally asked the B.C. Court of Appeal to rule whether B.C. has jurisdiction to regulate the environmental and economic impacts of oil transport in the province. 

Oates said the Know the Facts campaign in February and March cost $365,000, of which $233,000 was spent in B.C. She said the $474,325 of the $925,000 Keep Canada Working campaign was dedicated to reaching B.C. audiences. 

Squamish Nation Coun. Khelsilem (aka Dustin Rivers)

Newly elected Squamish Nation councillor Khelsilem (aka Dustin Rivers) is among the regular protesters outside the Burnaby Mountain tank farm where a watch house was erected to oppose the project. Squamish Nation and neighbouring Tsleil-Waututh First Nation are waiting for the verdict of their Federal Court of Appeal challenge of the project. 

At a May 2 news conference during the Assembly of First Nations meeting in Ottawa, Khelsilem said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “has failed to respect the indigenous rights of the Squamish people, has failed to consult my nation when it comes to the expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline and increased oil tankers through our territory.” 

Khelsilem did not respond to theBreaker’s request for comment about the Alberta government ads on the Squamish Nation billboards. 

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