First Nations’ challenges to TMX pipeline project dismissed

First Nations’ challenges to TMX pipeline project dismissed”

Four First Nations from British Columbia filed court challenges after the federal government approved the project a second time last June.

The federal court of appeal will today announce its decision on the latest challenge of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

As well, the federal government has signed benefit agreements with 43 Indigenous groups, the court said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government purchased the pipeline and associated infrastructure for $ 4.5 billion in 2018 and construction of the expansion is underway.

The 95-page ruling says there is no legal basis to interfere with the federal cabinet's approval of the project.

The decision set forward for construction to continue on the project, however the First Nations will have sixty days to appeal to the Supreme Court. Several First Nations and environmental groups applied for leave to appeal and the court granted four of them leave: Coldwater Indian Band, Squamish Nation, Tsleil-Waututh Nation and the Ts'elxwéyeqw Tribe.

The Trans Mountain expansion has had a long and troubled history.

"This was anything but a rubber-stamping exercise", the court said.

"That is why we worked so hard to change national opinion, why we stood up to BC when they threatened it, and why we pressured the federal government to buy the pipeline when it was in jeopardy".

Today's decision does not mean that reconciliation between the federal government and Indigenous peoples is not possible, the court said. Those risks included this court case.

There were talks with some indigenous communities about the sale, but Treasury Secretary Bill Morneau said the project would not be sold until all risks to further action have been resolved.

"It will put down a marker, from a long-term perspective, as to what consultation needs to look like", Warrier said in an interview before the ruling was released. We will hold our celebrations until oil is flowing through the pipeline.

In a decision published Tuesday morning, the Federal Court of Appeal found that the Indigenous communities failed to argue the federal government's renewed consultation process was insufficient.

"Insisting that the only acceptable accommodation is selecting an alternative to the project amounts to seeking a veto over the project, which forms no part of the duty to consult".

"The result was the most comprehensive consultation ever undertaken for a major project in Canada's history".

"Tactical behaviour aimed at ensuring that discussions fail within the time available for consultation is not consistent with reconciliation and would, if tolerated, allow for the effective use of a veto right". A clause in UNDRIP that requires the "free, prior and informed consent" of indigenous people for development in their territories has been interpreted by some as a veto.

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