Will Osler and Luke Morrison comment in The Lawyer's Daily on Bill 14, the Alberta Indigenous Opportunities Corporation Act. The legislation represents the first attempt in Canada to set up a permanent structure that will facilitate investment and access to capital by Indigenous groups in natural resource projects and related infrastructure.
“This is clearly not just a shell Crown corporation trying to do good things around the province,” said Luke Morrison, a partner in Bennett Jones LLP’s Calgary office. “It’s designed to take specific steps to deal with the barriers that have arisen for Indigenous investment.”
According to Morrison, close examination of the legislation reveals a scheme that reflects “the troubles Indigenous groups have in getting deals done.”
Not surprisingly, the key issue is access to capital.
“For example, First Nations had an opportunity to purchase an interest in the Pacific Trails Pipeline, but couldn’t do it for lack of funds,” Smith said. “And our firm is currently involved in a transaction where Indigenous groups have a chance to participate in an equity project but won’t be able to do it without loan guarantees from government.”
It’s precisely this type of gap that AIOC is targeting.
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“The private sector has seen the opportunities in partnering with First Nations, and Bill 14 reflects the government’s recognition that it also has a strong commercial desire to do business with Indigenous communities,” said Will Osler, Morrison’s partner at Bennett Jones in Calgary.