Alberta government to bring in bill to help First Nations invest in energy projects

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney sits with Grand Chief Wilton Littlechild, left, Grand Chief Arthur Noskey, centre and Chief Aaron Young during a meeting with First Nations Chiefs and Grand Chiefs about increasing Indigenous participation in the economy, in Edmonton on Monday, June 10, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Alberta will bring in legislation this fall to create a Crown corporation backstopped by $1 billion to help First Nations invest in major energy projects like pipelines.

Premier Jason Kenney made the announcement after meeting with chiefs from across Alberta at Government House in Edmonton.

The legislation, following up on an election campaign promise, will create the Indigenous Opportunities Corporation.

READ MORE: Western Canadian First Nations groups making progress in bid to purchase TMX

Watch below: (From May 2019) Indigenous groups from across Western Canada say they are nearly ready to put forward an offer to buy the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project. Heather Yourex-West reports.

Click to play video: '‘Project Reconciliation’ aims to own majority of Trans Mountain Pipeline' ‘Project Reconciliation’ aims to own majority of Trans Mountain Pipeline
‘Project Reconciliation’ aims to own majority of Trans Mountain Pipeline – May 21, 2019

On the campaign trail, Kenney promised his government would fund the corporation with $24 million over the first four years to give legal, technical and financial advice to First Nations looking to initiate or participate in energy projects.

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The province would also provide $1 billion to provide financial backstops and loan guarantees.

LISTEN: Fraser Institute fellow Tom Flanagan joins Ryan Jespersen to discuss how First Nations could benefit from pipelines

Kenney says the corporation addresses a historic imbalance, adding that for too long some First Nations did not have the financial means to get commercial rates of credit.

“[Some] have not had the same advantages. They don’t have the balance sheets quite frankly to be partners in projects like TMX,” said Kenney after the meeting.

“The idea of the Indigenous Opportunities Corporation is to help them get that financial capacity.”

READ MORE: Stake in Trans Mountain should go to Indigenous owners on route, B.C. chief says

Watch below: Some videos from Global News’ coverage of the Trans Mountain pipeline.

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TMX refers to the proposed expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline to get more oil from Alberta to the B.C. coast. The federal government bought the project in 2017 but has said it is not looking to be a longtime owner.

Kenney said Indigenous Relations Minister Rick Wilson will consult First Nations groups on the corporation over the summer to better inform the legislation when it comes forward.

He said the board of the Crown corporation will have First Nations representation.

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