Hon. Jim Prentice, Vice Chairman of CIBC, says growth and jobs must be
achieved with an unblinking focus and commitment to the environment
WHITEHORSE, July 17, 2013 /CNW/ - CIBC (TSX: CM) (NYSE: CM) - First Nations have an unprecedented opportunity
to shape and benefit from the next wave of nation-building in Canada
but need to decide whether to be participants or observers, says the
Honorable Jim Prentice, Senior Executive Vice-President and Vice
Chairman of CIBC.
Mr. Prentice believes it is imperative that First Nations find a way to
take advantage of these opportunities and get involved as partners.
"Personally, I favour getting to 'Yes.' Today, thanks to our abundance
of natural resources, we stand on the verge of a new era of growth and
development. No other country in the world is bringing on energy
projects at the pace or on the scale of Canada.
"We are talking about hundreds of billions of dollars in major resource
developments that are currently - or will be - taking place on or near
Aboriginal communities. It is national in nature. It is substantial in
scope. And in many cases it represents a game-changing opportunity for
He notes that First Nations are increasingly becoming partners in energy
and resource projects from coast-to-coast and these initiatives are
generating economic benefits for their communities. But he adds that
with some 400,000 Aboriginal youth entering the job market over the
decade the need to find more economic opportunities will intensify, as
will the need to invest in the future of Aboriginal youth.
"But let me be clear: I'm not talking about irresponsible development,"
says Mr. Prentice. "This isn't a tradeoff. It's not about securing
short-term economic benefits at the expense of our natural heritage.
"Rather, we must place environmental issues at the very centre of what
we do. As a former Minister of Environment, I know better than most
that First Nations have for centuries stood as proud defenders of our
environment. I would never counsel, and you would never consider, a
short-sighted approach in which the principles of safety and
sustainability would be sacrificed for fleeting financial advantage.
Growth and jobs must be achieved not merely with a nod to environmental
safety and protection, but with an unblinking focus and commitment."
He told delegates at the Assembly of First Nations 34th Annual General Assembly in Whitehorse that if they decide to pursue
these opportunities it is important to do so with common purpose and
laid out a number of key components to reach agreement.
Move expeditiously to the negotiating table with industry to represent
your own interests.
Understand the need to move beyond consultation. Once you sit down, the
objective is to achieve sustainable economic participation. The duty to
consult and accommodate was created as a way to get to 'Yes,' not as a
way to get to 'No.' It was created to assist First Nations in
extracting meaningful economic participation from those decisions.
Consultation must progress to negotiation, and negotiation must
maintain a meaningful direction and a positive momentum.
In some cases, getting to 'Yes' means working together. On its own, any
one First Nation there is relevant. But collectively, they are a force.
Retain good advisors. In any major project, the people on the other side
of the table will represent some of the world's most successful, best
capitalized and most sophisticated corporations. You need tough-minded
bankers, commercial lawyers and negotiators.
In some cases, pursue equity ownership in addition to Access and Benefit
Agreements. There are advantages to being an owner. Owners, for
example, have more say in the many decisions surrounding the project,
including those relating to the environment.
"The decisions you will make hold the potential to create new paths to
prosperity; new opportunities for Aboriginal businesses to flourish;
new stories of success and achievement; and long-term sustainability
for generations to come," adds Mr. Prentice.
A copy of Mr. Prentice's speech is available at: http://files.newswire.ca/256/cibc0716speech.pdf.
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PDF available at: http://stream1.newswire.ca/media/2013/07/17/20130717_C7992_DOC_EN_29070.pdf
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