Ottawa names lawyer to talk energy with natives

Tue Mar 19, 2013 2:58pm EDT
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* British Columbia's Doug Eyford gets new role

* To issue reports to Harper in June, November

* Insists role is not to persuade natives

By Jeffrey Jones

CALGARY, Alberta, March 19 (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has appointed a British Columbia lawyer to gather views of native groups across the Western province on energy development as the industry struggles to gain acceptance of multibillion-dollar pipelines that would vastly increase oil exports.

However, Harper's new representative for West Coast energy infrastructure, Doug Eyford, insisted on Tuesday his role will not be to cajole holdouts into supporting contentious projects.

Aboriginal opposition to such proposals as Enbridge Inc's C$6 billion ($5.8 billion) Northern Gateway pipeline has been a major stumbling block to the Harper Conservatives' aim of shipping large volumes of oil sands-derived crude to the Pacific Coast to be exported to Asia as a way to increase returns.

Eyford is a veteran of federal negotiations with Indian groups, known in Canada as First Nations, on self-government. Over the next three months, he will meet with communities affected by proposed pipelines, liquefied natural gas plants and marine terminals.

Eyford will issue a draft report to Harper on June 28 and the final document on Nov. 29, Joe Oliver, Canada's natural resources minister, said in a speech in Terrace, British Columbia.   Continued...