George Morgan wouldn’t totally rule out future fracking in Kaska traditional territory if he is elected chief on Monday.
But the candidate in the Liard First Nation election says there needs to be much more study and consultation before any controversial oil and gas extraction happens in the area.
“I’m definitely pro-economic development as a general philosophy, but I don’t think fracking is something anybody in the territory is ready to undertake,” Morgan said.
“I think much more research and consultation needs to be done. I’m hearing reports from the corporate side that say very succinctly that the situation is not that bad, but then I hear news reports, and reports out of Fort Nelson, and documentaries like Gasland, that make me very concerned,” he said.
“I would like to see a lot more research and consultation.”
Morgan said he would much rather see conventional resource extraction as a means of boosting the economy in Watson Lake. But whatever happens, he’s certain the community needs some sort of industry development to help bring in more jobs.
“I’m definitely open to any manufacturing in Watson Lake. Clearly it’s a tough market because of shipping costs, but if there are any kind of micro-projects that could be developed, that would be important,” he said.
Morgan said the new recent agreement between the Liard First Nation, the town of Watson Lake and Yukon Electrical to begin looking for micro-hydro projects in the region is good, and he would be in favour of the possible industries extra power might support, including bringing a sawmill back to Watson Lake.
“Clearly (hydro) is the cleanest form of energy. Flooding of Kaska traditional territory is very significant and there would have to be serious discussion about compensation and royalties, but I’m definitely pro-hydro,” Morgan said.
For Susan Magun, another candidate for chief, fracking is definitely out of the question, no matter what.
“I am totally against fracking. If there’s any good stories about fracking, I haven’t heard it. I don’t know enough about fracking, but what I know about fracking, it’s not good,” Magun said.
When it comes to oil and gas extraction in Kaska lands more generally, Magun said she hasn’t given the issue a lot of thought.
“I never really put a thought to it. The only thing I’m looking at right now is economic development for our people, and I’m not sure if oil and gas is the only thing. There could be others. The interest is there, but it has to be done by the majority of LFN members, and what they want,” she said.
Whatever economic opportunities might exist for the Liard First Nation, Magun said the push needs to come from her people, not from herself.
“There was a strategic plan done by the community to explore the different economic developments within our community. I’m all for it, but it needs to come from the people. I can’t say what I want. If the people say whatever their interests are, that’s what I want,” she said.
Beginning on Monday, the News called all the candidates for chief for their thoughts on oil and gas development in Kaska traditional territory, but no one else responded by press time.
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