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Rival Indigenous bidder for the Trans Mountain pipeline cautiously welcomed

Last Updated Jun 5, 2019 at 9:10 am PDT

Regional Chief Shane Gottfriedson looks on as Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, speaks at the Assembly of First Nations' annual general meeting at the Songhees Wellness Centre in Victoria on October 24, 2016. The British Columbia director for a First Nations consortium planning to offer $6.8 billion for majority ownership of the Trans Mountain pipeline says the emergence of a rival Alberta group raises concerns about weakening the strength of his all-inclusive Indigenous bid. But Shane Gottfriedson of Project Reconciliation says he welcomes the interest and competition from Iron Coalition, an Alberta-based organization co-chaired by Chief Tony Alexis of Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation, which is to announce details of its intended bid for the pipeline stake today. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

CALGARY — The British Columbia director for a First Nations consortium planning to buy a majority stake in the Trans Mountain pipeline says the emergence of a rival Alberta Indigenous bidder raises concerns about weakening his group’s all-inclusive bid.

But Shane Gottfriedson of Project Reconciliation says he welcomes the interest and competition from Iron Coalition, an Alberta-based organization co-chaired by Chief Tony Alexis of Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation, which is to announce details of its intended bid today.

Iron Coalition says it is the only Alberta group mandated by the Assembly of Treaty Chiefs to pursue the stake and is inviting all First Nations and Metis communities in the province to join in.

Gottfriedson, a former chief of the Tk’Emlups te Secwepemc First Nation and a former B.C. regional chief for the Assembly of First Nations, says Project Reconciliation’s business model is more “inclusive” because it wants to enlist Indigenous groups from B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan in its $6.8-billion bid for a 51 per cent stake in the pipeline project.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau has said the federal government won’t negotiate the sale of the pipeline it bought for $4.5 billion last summer until after construction of its proposed expansion is “de-risked,” without saying what that means. The CBC reported he met with Iron Coalition in March.

The government is to make a final decision on whether the delayed expansion can proceed by June 18.

“For me, it’s good for them (Iron Coalition). I think we knew going in it would be a competitive field to be involved in,” said Gottfriedson.

“At the end of the day, the No. 1 goal is to get the product to the market.”

The Canadian Press