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Title: Making space for reconciliation in Canada's planning system
Author: Galbraith, Lindsay
ISNI:       0000 0004 5346 3252
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2014
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Early in 2012, the Minister of Natural Resources Joe Oliver released an open letter to Canadians where he identified 'an urgent matter of Canada's national interest': 'radical groups' were 'threaten[ing] to hijack [Canada's] regulatory system' for major projects and argued they should 'be accomplished in a quicker and more streamlined fashion'. This came on the eve of the first day of oral hearings for the public review into the controversial Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline and tanker project that would allow for oil sands from Alberta to access outside markets other than the United States. A few months later, Canada's environmental decision-making process was dramatically reformed, resulting in a significant outcry across the country over the likely effects on environmental oversight and Aboriginal rights. In Haida Gwaii, a series of islands off of the north coast of British Columbia (BC) around which the proposed tanker traffic would navigate, a process of reconciliation is in its early stages. The forestry sector is now subject to a collaborative provincial and Haida (First) Nation planning and decision process and a Haida-owned company is the biggest tenure holder and forestry sector employer. However, the Government of Canada has refused to participate in this reconciliation process in any meaningful way. It has, instead, encountered the Haida Nation through the court-like environmental review process for the proposed Enbridge project, the very same process that has been used to justify the dramatic environmental planning reforms. This research constructs a framework for tracing the spatial and institutional dynamics of the reconciliation process in planning. A significant amount of the Crown's approach to reconciliation relies upon the consultation that takes place within and alongside planning and regulatory decision making for natural resource developments. While the process does not, in itself, lead to any meaningful engagement over reconciliation, a central research question is: What opportunities might exist for reconciliation to take place in planning? And, how do these opportunities change? Contributing to the Indigenous planning literature, this dissertation examines some of the discursive and institutional factors that led to (a) the collaborative planning taking place on Haida Gwaii today and (b) the 2012 federal planning reforms. For each case, the opportunities available in planning for modifying the dominant view of reconciliation are considered. The dissertation begins with an overview of the very initial discussions on reconciliation between the Haida Nation and the Province of BC. It is argued that this move was facilitated by the Haida Nation shifting their concerns to various venues that were more or less receptive to their interests: the courts, a road blockade, collaborative planning, and bargaining. On the other hand, Canada has attempted to regain control by actively modifying the venues available to the Haida Nation in ways that excluded them or moved them to a venue that was less receptive to their concerns. It is reasoned that while planning spaces operate in ways that tend to be colonial, certain conditions and mechanisms are available in these systems that can be used to open up (perceived) opportunities for changing the way reconciliation is implemented across this system. These spaces reveal information about Indigenous-state power relations that are usually not observable until a conflict arises, at which point analysts may observe how actors respond to these perceived opportunities. Evidence is collected from numerous sources. Interviews with key informants, observation, and policy document review composed the bulk of the data collection for both cases. Four days of oral hearings in Haida Gwaii were observed in 2012, offering a window into the encounter between the Haida and Canada just as a streamlined environmental review process was being developed and implemented. In contrasting the two cases, this research finds that planning is used both to control development and as an opportunity to engage with the Crown over the long-standing dispute about overlapping title to and, thus, jurisdiction over Haida Gwaii. The process by which one use prevails over another is the central research problem; indeed, there remains an important disconnect between Indigenous political actors and the Crown (and, in some examples, industry) on how environmental planning institutions ought to be used. This tension is present within a planning venue and across the planning system, opening up potential opportunities, such as those used by the Haida Nation to regain control over Haida Gwaii, or closing down these opportunities. For these reasons, planning is one of the most useful arenas for influencing and for understanding the politics of reconciliation in Canada.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Indigenous rights ; Environmental impact assessment ; British Columbia ; Enbridge ; Planning reform