250 Canadian Professors Speak Out Against Site C

The ECOreport reposts press release in which More Than 250 Canadian Professors Speak Out Against Site C

Press Release By Concerned Scientists

More than 250 prominent university professors from across Canada, including legal scholars, political scientists, water scientists, and environmental scientists, released a statement of concern regarding Site C, a hydroelectric dam on the Peace River in northeastern British Columbia. A letter supporting the concerns raised by this group has been issued by the President of the Royal Society of Canada.

250 Canadian Professors Speak Out Against Site C

All Images Courtesy Don Hoffmann
All Images Courtesy Don Hoffmann

“Based on evidence raised across our many disciplines, we have concluded that there were significant gaps and inadequacies in the regulatory review and environmental assessment process for the Site C Project,” reads the statement of concern. “Our assessment is that this process did not accord with the commitments of both the provincial and federal governments to reconciliation with and legal obligations to First Nations, protection of the environment, and evidence-based decision-making with scientific integrity.”

The statement and supporting analysis provides a detailed review of First Nations, legal, and environmental issues.

Outstanding Court Cases & Unresolved Aboriginal Rights Issues

The President of the Royal Society noted: “It is troubling that the Site C Project is proceeding even though there are outstanding court cases on First Nations treaty and Aboriginal rights issues which have not yet been resolved. Past projects often neglected or ignored Aboriginal peoples and their concerns–with adverse and lingering consequences. Those days are supposed to be over.”

The researchers also concluded that it was inappropriate to initiate construction prior to ongoing court decisions in cases brought by affected First Nations. They also queried whether the process for approving Site C should be reconsidered, given the federal government’s removal of permanent objector status to the United Declarations on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

As the Royal Society of Canada President asked: “Why is construction underway when these matters are still to be addressed by the courts in two First Nations cases? That in itself would seem to be an infringement of Aboriginal interests. It also undermines all the goodwill over the past few years towards accommodation and reconciliation. That is not the blueprint for Canada in the twenty-first century. Work on the Site C project should be discontinued for this reason alone.”

Significant Adverse Environmental Effects

Images of Devastation in Peace River - Courtesy Don Hoffmann
Images of Devastation in Peace River – Courtesy Don Hoffmann

The statement of concern also noted that it was “particularly troubling that the assessment process did not comprehensively assess cumulative environmental effects and impacts.” The researchers found that the number and scope of significant adverse environmental effects arising from the Site C Project are unprecedented in the history of environmental assessment in Canada. They called upon both governments to explain why the unprecedented imposition of these effects would be justified by Site C, whose electricity output is presently unnecessary and for which less expensive and less damaging alternatives exist.

Lack Of Evidence-Based Decision-Making

The researchers also concluded that there was a lack of evidence-based decision-making with scientific integrity. They expressed strong concern about the review process, noting that the Site C project was entirely exempted from any review by the BC Utilities Commission, and that the regulatory review was limited to an environmental assessment Joint Review Panel conducted over a compressed nine-month period by a three-person panel.

As noted in the statement: “As acknowledged by the Joint Review Panel, the review process was characterized by insufficient time, resources and information that compromised the potential for a well-informed, comprehensive decision-making process. The Panel stated explicitly in their report that they did not have sufficient time or resources to properly assess certain key issues, including the costs of the Site C Project, and thus recommended that the Site C Project be referred to the BC Utilities Commission, which has not occurred.”

The document’s authors launched a website (www.sitecstatement.org) and held a press conference at 10:30 a.m. EST on May 24 to explain the scientific reasons underlying the statement.

Four Recommendations

Images of BC Hydro Activities in the Peace River Valley - Courtesy Don Hoffmann
Images of BC Hydro Activities in the Peace River Valley – Courtesy Don Hoffmann

The Statement of Concern makes four recommendations:

  1. The federal government to revisit the Order in Council approving the Project1 by directing the Department of Justice to complete an analysis of (i) whether the Project infringes upon the treaty and aboriginal rights guaranteed by the Constitution Act, 1982 (s. 35), and (ii) whether any such infringement can be justified under the framework established in Sparrow.2 We expect the present government, with its strong commitment to reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, will make public the analysis received from the Department of Justice.3 We ask that the federal government suspend the issuance of further permits or authorizations pursuant to the Order In Council until this analysis has been completed and publicized;
  2. Both governments to explain why the unprecedented imposition of numerous significant adverse environmental effects is justified by a Project whose electricity output is presently unnecessary and for which less expensive and less environmentally damaging alternatives exist; • The provincial government to refer the Project for review and recommendations under Section 5 of the BC Utilities Commission Act;
  3.  Both governments to delay issuance of any further permits or authorizations until the courts decide on the First Nations’ issues at stake, and until the BC Utilities Commission has completed its review.

“It’s rare that scientists speak out collectively about controversial topics. Many of us had come to our own conclusions about Site C. Once we began doing research and consulting with each other, we realized that we needed to speak publicly,” said Dr. Karen Bakker, Director of the Program on Water Governance at the University of British Columbia.


Images of BC Hydro Activities in the Peace River Valley - Courtesy Don Hoffmann
Images of BC Hydro Activities in the Peace River Valley – Courtesy Don Hoffmann
  • Dr. Karen Bakker (University of British Columbia)
  • Dr. Carrie Bourassa (First Nations University)
  • Dr. Gordon Christie (University of British Columbia)
  • Dr. David Schindler (Emeritus, University of Alberta)
  • Dr. Peter Kulchyski (University of Manitoba)
  • Dr. Leesa Fawcett (York University)
  • Dr. Denise Nadeau (Concordia University)
  • Dr. Andrew Biro (Acadia University)
  • Dr. Glen Coulthard (University of British Columbia)
  • Dr. Leila Harris (University of British Columbia)
  • Dr. Jessica Dempsey (University of British Columbia)
  • Dr. Philippe Le Billon (University of British Columbia)
  • Dr. Mark Johnson (University of British Columbia)
  • Dr. Hannah Wittmann (University of British Columbia)
  • Dr. Juanita Sundberg (University of British Columbia)
  • Dr. David Gaertner (University of British Columbia)
  • Dr. Catherine Dauvergne (University of British Columbia)
  • Dr. Lorraine Weir (University of British Columbia)
  • Dr. David Boyd (University of British Columbia)
  • Dr. Sheryl Lightfoot (University of British Columbia)
  • Dr. Chris Lee (University of British Columbia)
  • Dr. Margery Fee (University of British Columbia)
  • Dr. Benita Bunjun (University of British Columbia)
  • Dr. Alannah Young Leon (University of British Columbia)
  • Dorothy Christian (University of British Columbia)
  • Beth Carruthers (University of British Columbia)
  • Dr. Johnny Mack (University of British Columbia)
  • Dr. Darlene Johnston (University of British Columbia)
  • Dr. Martin Adamson (University of British Columbia)
  • Dr. Leonie Sandercock (University of British Columbia)
  • Dr. Ray Hsu (University of British Columbia)
  • Jocelyn Stacey (University of British Columbia)
  • Gillian Jerome (University of British Columbia)
  • Bjorn Stime (University of British Columbia)
  • Dr. Charles Menzies (University of British Columbia)
  • Dr. Coll Thrush (University of British Columbia)
  • Dr. Robin Ridington (University of British Columbia)
  • Jillian Ridington (University of British Columbia)
  • Dr. Hadi Dowlatabadi (University of British Columbia)
  • Dr. Pat O’Riley (University of British Columbia)
  • Images of BC Hydro Activities in the Peace River Valley - Courtesy Don Hoffmann
  • Dr. Charles J. Krebs, Emeritus (University of British Columbia)
  • Dr. Michael Healey, Emeritus (University of British Columbia
  • Michelle Daigle (University of British Columbia)
  • Dr. Mark Mac Lean (University of British Columbia)
  • Dr. Peter Cole (University of British Columbia)
  • Dr. Sarah Otto (University of British Columbia)
  • Dr. Eduardo Jovel (University of British Columbia)
  • Dr. Laura Cranmer (Vancouver Island University)
  • Dr. Nancy Turner (University of Victoria)
  • Dr. Jeff Corntassel (University of Victoria)
  • Dr. John Borrows (University of Victoria)
  • Dr. Oliver Brandes (University of Victoria)
  • Dr. Kelly Bannister (University of Victoria)
  • Dr. Eric Higgs (University of Victoria)
  • Dr. Kara Shaw (University of Victoria)
  • Dr. James Rowe (University of Victoria)
  • Dr. Natalie Ban (University of Victoria)
  • Dr. John Volpe (University of Victoria)
  • Dr. Matt James (University of Victoria)
  • Dr. Jo-Anne Lee (University of Victoria)
  • Dr. Trudi Lynn Smith (University of Victoria)
  • Dr. Richard Pickard (University of Victoria)
  • Dr. Tim Lilburn (University of Victoria)
  • Dr. Wendy Wickwire (University of Victoria)
  • Dr. Jan Zwicky (Emerita, University of Victoria)
  • Dr. Nicholas Bradley (University of Victoria)
  • Dr. Rod Dobell (University of Victoria)
  • Dr. William Carroll (University of Victoria)
  • Dr. Michael M’Gonigle (University of Victoria)
  • Dr. Taiaiake Alfred (University of Victoria)
  • Dr. Eldon Yellowhorn (Simon Fraser University)
  • Dr. Lynn Quarmby (Simon Fraser University)
  • Dr. Samir Gandesha (Simon Fraser University)
  • Dr. Marianne Ignace (Simon Fraser University)
  • Jin-me Yoon (Professor, Simon Fraser University)
  • Dr. Eugene McCann (Simon Fraser University)
  • Dr. Faran Ali (Simon Fraser University)
  • Dr. Roy Miki (Emeritus, Simon Fraser University)
  • Dr. Clint Burnham (Simon Fraser University)
  • Images of BC Hydro Activities in the Peace River Valley - Courtesy Don Hoffmann
  • Dr. Nicholas Blomley (Simon Fraser University)
  • Dr. Colin Browne (Emeritus, Simon Fraser University)
  • Dr. Stephen Collis (Simon Fraser University)
  • Dr. Roger Hayter (Simon Fraser University)
  • Dr. Anne Salomon (Simon Fraser University)
  • Dr. Evelyn Pinkerton (Simon Fraser University)
  • Dr. Janet Sturgeon (Simon Fraser University)
  • Dr. Paul Kingsbury (Simon Fraser University)
  • Dr. John Welch (Simon Fraser University)
  • Dr. Rudy Reimer/Yumks (Simon Fraser University)
  • Dr. Maya Gislason (Simon Fraser University)
  • Dr. George Nicholas (Simon Fraser University)
  • Dr. Kirsten Zickfeld (Simon Fraser University)
  • Dr. Lawrence Dill (Simon Fraser University)
  • Dr. Geoff Mann (Simon Fraser University)
  • Dr. Annie Ross (Simon Fraser University)
  • Dr. Emma Norman (Northwest Indian College)
  • Dr. Rita Wong (Emily Carr University)
  • Peg Campbell (Emily Carr University)
  • Sandra Semchuk (Emily Carr University)
  • Karolle Wall (Emeritus, Emily Carr University)
  • Marian Penner Bancroft (Emeritus, Emily Carr University)
  • Julie Andreyev (Emily Carr University)
  • Louise St. Pierre (Emily Carr University)
  • Alex Phillips (Emily Carr University)
  • Dr. Randy Lee Cutler (Emily Carr University)
  • Dr. Ruth Beer (Emily Carr University)
  • Madeleine Sauvé (Artist/Public Educator)
  • Dr. Carol Gigliotti (Writer)
  • Daphne Marlatt (Poet-Scholar)
  • Dr. Rajdeep Gill (Independent Scholar)
  • Dr. Nigel Haggan (Independent Scholar)
  • Amber Dawn (Independent Scholar)
  • Roger Farr (Capilano University)
  • Kim Minkus (Capilano University)
  • Heather Burt (Langara College)
  • Cynthia Flood, Emerita (Langara College)
  • Seema Ahluwalia (Kwantlen Polytechnic University)
  • Dr. Bill Burgess (Kwantlen Polytechnic University)
  • Dr. Jan Thompson (Kwantlen Polytechnic University)
  • Images of BC Hydro Activities in the Peace River Valley - Courtesy Don Hoffmann
  • Jen Currin (Kwantlen Polytechnic University)
  • Dr. Heather DavisFisch (University of the Fraser Valley)
  • Dr. Erica Grimm (Trinity Western University)
  • Dr. Norah Bowman (Okanagan College)
  • Dr. Ann McKinnon (Okanagan College)
  • Dr. Jodey Castricano (University of British Columbia – Okanagan)
  • Dr. Nicole Schabus (Thompson Rivers University)
  • Dr. Charis Kamphuis (Thompson Rivers University)
  • Dr. Bradford W. Morse (Thompson Rivers University)
  • Dr. Janna Promislow (Thompson Rivers University)
  • Dr. Michael Murphy (University of Northern British Columbia)
  • Dr. Katherine Parker (University of Northern British Columbia)
  • Dr. Annie Booth (University of Northern British Columbia)
  • Dr. Arthur Fredeen (University of Northern British Columbia)
  • Dr. Zoe Meletis (University of Northern British Columbia)
  • Dr. Ross Hoffman (University of Northern British Columbia)
  • Dr. Agnes Pawlowska-Mainville (University of Northern British
  • Columbia)
  • Sinead Earley (University of Northern British Columbia)
  • Dr. Sarah de Leeuw (University of Northern British Columbia)
  • Dr. Stephen Dery (University of Northern British Columbia)
  • Dr. Margot Parkes (University of Northern British Columbia)
  • Dr. Pamela Wright (University of Northern British Columbia)
  • Dr. Robert Budde (University of Northern British Columbia)
  • Dr. Antonia Mills (University of Northern British Columbia)
  • Dr. Si Transken (UNBC)
  • Dr. Michael Gillingham (UNBC)
  • Dr. Judyta Frodyma (UNBC)
  • Dr. Ellen Petticrew (UNBC)
  • Dr. Patrick Maher (UNBC)
  • Dr. Makere Stewart-Harawira (University of Alberta)
  • Dr. Christine Stewart (University of Alberta)
  • Dr. Jon Gordon (University of Alberta)
  • Dr. Laurie Adkin (University of Alberta)
  • Hereward Longley (University of Alberta)
  • Jordan Kinder (University of Alberta)
  • Dr. D’Arcy Vermette (University of Alberta)
  • Dr. Keavy Martin (University of Alberta)
  • Dr. Liza Piper (University of Alberta)
  • Dr. Janice Williamson (University of Alberta)
  • Dr. Brenda Parlee (University of Alberta)
  • Images of BC Hydro Activities in the Peace River Valley - Courtesy Don Hoffmann
  • Tanya Harnett (University of Alberta)
  • Fred Wah (Emeritus, University of Calgary)
  • Dr. Jackie Seidel (University of Calgary)
  • Dr. Mary-Ellen Tyler (University of Calgary)
  • Dr. Byron Miller (University of Calgary)
  • Dr. Martin Olszynski (University of Calgary)
  • Dr. Sharon Mascher (University of Calgary)
  • Dr. Pamela Banting (Calgary)
  • Tempest Emery (Independent Scholar)
  • Dr. Michael Truscello (Mount Royal University)
  • Richard Harrison (Mount Royal University)
  • Dr. Kit Dobson (Mount Royal University)
  • Dr. Paul Huebener (Athabasca University)
  • Dr. Meenal Shrivastava (Athabasca University)
  • Dr. Lorna Stefanick (Athabasca University)
  • Dr. Peter (Jay) Smith (Athabasca University)
  • Dr. Lorelei Hanson (Athabasca University)
  • Dr. Leslie Main Johnson (Athabasca University)
  • Dr. Joyce Green (University of Regina)
  • Dr. Darlene Juschka (University of Regina)
  • Dr. Sakej Henderson (University of Saskatchewan)
  • Dr. Len Findlay (University of Saskatchewan)
  • Dr. Marilyn Poitras (University of Saskatchewan)
  • Dr. Lalita Bharadwaj (University of Saskatchewan)
  • Dr. Andrew Miller (First Nations University)
  • Dr. Warren Cariou (University of Manitoba)
  • Dr. Aimee Craft (University of Manitoba)
  • Dr. Stéphane Mclachlan (University of Manitoba)
  • Dr. Derek Kornelsen (University of Manitoba)
  • Dr. Ellen Judd (University of Manitoba)
  • Dr. Brenda Gunn (University of Manitoba)
  • Armand Garnet Ruffo (Queen’s University)
  • Dr. Dylan Robinson (Queen’s University)
  • Dr. Jeff Masuda (Queen’s University)
  • Dr. Keren Zaiontz (Queen’s University)
  • Dr. Aaron Franks (Queen’s University)
  • Vanessa Sloan Morgan (Queen’s University)
  • Dr. Petra Fachinger (Queen’s University)
  • Ian Fanning (Shabot Obaadjiwan Algonquin First Nation member at Queen’s University)
  • Images of BC Hydro Activities in the Peace River Valley - Courtesy Don Hoffmann
  • Craig Berggold (Queen’s University)
  • Maria Kyres (Queen’s University)
  • Dr. Heather Castleden (Queen’s University)
  • Lillian Allen (Professor, OCAD University)
  • Dr. Kate Parizeau (University of Guelph)
  • Dionne Brand (Professor, University of Guelph)
  • Alec Follett (University of Guelph)
  • Heather Nicol (Trent University)
  • Dr. Leanne Simpson (Independent Scholar)
  • Dr. Daniel Coleman (McMaster University)
  • Dr. Amber Dean (McMaster University)
  • Dr. Wilfred Greaves (University of Toronto)
  • Dr. Smaro Kamboureli (University of Toronto)
  • Dr. Rauna Kuokkanen (University of Toronto)
  • Dr. Andrea Olive (University of Toronto)
  • Dr. Kate Neville (University of Toronto)
  • Dr. Franklyn Griffiths (University of Toronto)
  • Dr. Wilfred Greaves (University of Toronto)
  • Douglas Sanderson (University of Toronto)
  • Bryan Dale Ph.D (University of Toronto)
  • Dr. Scott Prudham (University of Toronto)
  • Dr. Donald Schwartz (University of Toronto)
  • Dr. Martin Krkosek (University of Toronto)
  • Dr. Meyer Brownstone (University of Toronto)
  • Dr. Joseph Carens (University of Toronto)
  • Patrick Nickleson (University of Toronto)
  • Dr. Leslie Sanders (York University)
  • Dr. Greg Albo (York University)
  • Dr. Janet Rubinoff (York University)
  • Dr. Paul Wilkinson (York University)
  • Dr. Gail Fraser (York University)
  • Dr. Roger Keil (York University)
  • Dr. Gene Desfor (York University)
  • Dr. Walter Whiteley (York University)
  • Dr. Anna Zalik (York University)
  • Dr. Ilan Kapoor (York University)
  • Dr. Mora Campbell (York University)
  • Dai Kojima (York University)
  • David R. Anderson (York University)
  • Dr. Dayna Scott (York University)
  • Dr. Louis Lefeber (York University)
  • Janine MacLeod (York University)
  • Dr. Signa A. Daum Shanks (York University)
  • Dr. Jeremy Schmidt (Carleton University)
  • Dr. Jeremy Kerr (University of Ottawa)
  • Dr. Jennifer Blair (University of Ottawa)
  • Dr. Larry Chartrand (University of Ottawa)
  • Dr. Marie-Josée Massicotte (University of Ottawa)
  • Dr. Angela Carter (University of Waterloo)
  • Dr. Kim Solga (University of Western Ontario)
  • Dr. Sara Seck (University of Western Ontario)
  • Dr. Jenny Kerber (Wilfrid Laurier University)
  • Alex Latta (Wilfrid Laurier University)
  • Dr. Wendee Kubik (Brock University)
  • Dr. Gregory Betts (Brock University)
  • Dr. Karen Drake (Lakehead University)
  • Elie Jalbert (Concordia University)
  • Dr. Pearl Eliadis (McGill University)
  • Dr. Selena Couture (McGill University)
  • Dr. Catherine Choquette (Université de Sherbrooke)
  • Dr. Max Haiven (NSCAD University)
  • Ardath Whynacht (Mount Allison University)
  • Raymond Cusson (Community Researcher)
  • Dr. Stephen Tomblin (Memorial University)
  • Dr. Sarah Martin (Memorial University)
  • Dr. Christopher Dunn (Memorial University)
  • Dr. Ian Baird (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
  • Dr. Samer Alatout (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
  • Dr. Stephanie Kane (Indiana University Bloomington)
  • Amy Zhang (Yale University)
  • Dr. Kate Rigby (Bath Spa University)
  • Dr. David JH Blake (Independent Scholar)
  • Laura M. Lee (Independent Scholar)
  • Dr. David JH Blake (Independent Scholar)
  • Dr. Astrida Neimanis (University of Sydney)
  • Dr. Rory Wallace (Independent Scholar)
  • Dr. Barbara Leckie (Carleton University)
  • Dr. Charles Schweger, (Emeritus, University of Alberta)
  • Melanie Dennis Unrau (University of Manitoba)
  • Dr. Emily Eaton (University of Regina)
  • Dr. Peter C. van Wyck (Concordia University)
  • Dr. Catriona Sandilands (York University)
  • Dr. Monika Kin Gagnon (Concordia University)
  • Baco Ohama (Goddard College)
  • Dr. Kirsty Màiri Robertson (Western University)
  • Charlie Peters (Independent Scholar)
  • Dr. Susie O’Brien (McMaster University)
  • Dr. Jody Berland (York University)

All Images of BC Hydro Activities in the Peace River Valley – Courtesy Don Hoffmann


  1.  On October 14, 2014, the Governor in Council issued Order in Council P.C. 2014-1105 approving the Project.
  2. R v. Sparrow (1990) 1 SCR 1075 set out criteria to determine whether governmental infringement on treaty and aboriginal rights can be justified. How this functions in the context of treaty rights was set out in R.v. Badger (1996) 1 S.C.R. 771 and Mikisew Cree First Nation v. Canada (Minister of Canadian Heritage), (2005) 3 S.C.R. 388.
  3. Prior to the previous federal government’s approval of the Order in Council, it may have sought advice from the Department of Justice on the s. 35 issues involved. Any prior advice from the Department of Justice is secret (as a matter of solicitor-client privilege) and not available to the present government.

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