Former MP Nathan Cullen appointed B.C. liaison in pipeline dispute
Hereditary Chief Ronnie West, centre, from the Lake Babine First Nation, sings and beats a drum during a solidarity march after Indigenous nations and supporters gathered for a meeting to show support for the Wet'suwet'en Nation, in Smithers, B.C., on January 16, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
VICTORIA -- The British Columbia government has appointed former New Democrat MP Nathan Cullen as a provincial liaison with Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs in an LNG pipeline dispute.
Cullen represented Skeena-Bulkley Valley, a sprawling part of northern British Columbia that includes the Wet'suwet'en traditional territory, until last year when he decided not to seek re-election.
The premier's office says Cullen will work with Wet'suwet'en leaders, the RCMP, Coastal GasLink, the provincial public sector and other parties.
It says he will focus on de-escalating the conflict surrounding a court-ordered injunction regarding the company's access to a forest service road outside of Houston.
Coastal GasLink has signed agreements with 20 elected First Nations along the pipeline's 670-kilometre route from northeastern B.C. to an export terminal in Kitimat but the hereditary clan chiefs say it has no authority without their consent.
Supporters of the clan chiefs felled trees along the road and built encampments after the chiefs issued an eviction notice to the company soon after the injunction was granted.
Premier John Horgan says in a statement that he's pleased all parties have agreed to the appointment of a liaison.
“Nathan has agreed to act as an intermediary in the hopes of finding a solution to this challenging dispute,” Horgan says.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 27, 2020.