Prince Rupert Port Authority, B.C.- March 14, 2011

Supplemental content

Speaking notes for the Honourable Chuck Strahl, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities – announcement of agreements with First Nations groups regarding the expansion of the Port of Prince Rupert

Thank you for being here as we continue our efforts to build a safe and secure, efficient and environmentally responsible transportation system right across Canada.

It’s a system that is among the best in the world — and with the input of all orders of government, including First Nations, we’re making it even better.

This is a transportation system with enormous potential for our shared future prosperity. Yet we know this potential can only be met through partnership and cooperation.

Those of you who know me from my days as Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development know the value I place on collaboration.

I take the same approach in my role as Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities.

After all, we all know world-class transportation systems are not built from the top down — not in today’s global economy.

Instead it takes the knowledge and experience of those who actually use the system and from those who benefit from it.

The Port of Prince Rupert is an excellent example of this.

Over the past years, it has rapidly grown into a leading trade corridor and gateway between North American and Asian markets.

And more importantly, it has tremendous potential for growth over the next decades – bringing even more prosperity to the region.

That’s why I’m pleased today to announce that the Government of Canada and the Prince Rupert Port Authority have reached an agreement with:

  • the Lax Kw’alaams Indian Band; and
  • the Metlakatla Band Indian Band

…, known together as the Coast Tsimshian First Nations,

…in regard to the development of the Port’s Fairview Container Terminal.

The Government of Canada and the Port Authority are committed to ensuring a role for the Coast Tsimshian in future Port development and that’s why we are providing:

  • economic development funding to help build long lasting business opportunities and
  • employment training to make sure Tsimshian Members have the skills required to take on challenging and well paying jobs.

This government is committed to creating sustainable employment for First Nations communities.

To that end, you may recall that in February 2009, my colleague the Honorable John Duncan announced funding of $2 million to the Prince Rupert ASEP Society for training and skills development opportunities for through the Aboriginal Skills and Employment Partnership program.

I’m happy today to say that this successful initiative has provided training to over 200 people and resulted in over 50 First Nations members finding employment.

These agreements build upon Canada’s Framework for Aboriginal Economic Development. I had the opportunity to launch the Framework in July of 2009, when I was Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs.

Its purpose is to focus the federal government's actions—from programs to legislation to partnerships—to increase the participation of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples in the Canadian economy.

It also strives to improve economic outcomes for Aboriginal peoples in all parts of Canada.

Today’s announcement is a further example of our government’s commitment to the Framework and to ensuring First Nations communities have access to economic development, employment, and training opportunities.

We know these opportunities can result in real and tangible benefits, which are vital to creating sustainable communities.

This agreement is in addition to agreements reached and also being announced today with two First Nations groups located near Terrace, the Kitselas, First Nation and the Kitsumkalum First Nation.

I also want to take this opportunity, on behalf of the Government of Canada, to express our gratitude to Mr. Douglas Eyford, Canada’s Chief Negotiator.

Mr. Eyford’s tireless efforts, along with his vision and professionalism have brought a fair and balanced agreement for the First Nations, and for all Canadians.

Today’s announcement also allows us to move forward together with the planned and future projects that will expand port operations in Prince Rupert, and will provide a greater level of certainty for future investors.

This is vital to the continued development of the Asia-Pacific Gateway and Corridor, one of our government’s most important initiatives.

The Gateway positions Canada as an integrated, efficient and reliable transportation route connecting North America with the world.

By moving forward with the projects in Prince Rupert, and by working together towards a successful Asia-Pacific Gateway, we’re sending a positive message to our trading partners: a message that says Canada both wants their business and is prepared for it.

This, in turn, will provide significant economic benefits to Prince Rupert, British Columbia, First Nations, and Canada as a whole.

We continue to move forward with the Asia-Pacific Gateway, and, in addition to physical infrastructure, we’re turning our attention to issues such as modernizing policy and legislative frameworks.

This will help improve efficiency and reliability through partnership, while boosting innovation. 

It’s about leveraging the benefits we’ve already obtained from our Gateway investments and adding value.

And we’re going to take what we learn from the Asia-Pacific Gateway and apply to initiatives such as the Atlantic Gateway and the Ontario-Quebec Continental Gateway.

All of this work means jobs for today and tomorrow here at home, while making Canada more competitive for the future.

Ladies and gentlemen, I believe that a rising tide raises all boats, and today’s announcement is yet another example of how partnership is moving us forward together.

After all, we’re not just building a transportation system, we’re building a foundation for the future:

…a future that brings people together, including First Nations;

…a future where input is sought and valued; and

…a future where prosperity will be felt not by the few but the many.

Thank you.

Canada's Asia-Pacific Gateway