BLANK SPACER

VIDEO: Federal appeals court approves six First Nations challenges of Trans Mountain pipeline

Environmental challenges were dismissed, disappointing those groups

The Federal Court of Appeals has ruled that six of 12 legal challenges to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion can go ahead.

Wednesday’s ruling will allow groups to appeal the second phase of the expansion, which the federal government approved for the second time in June.

Concerns raised about the pipeline include inadequate environmental protections and some First Nations’ beliefs that Ottawa had predetermined the outcome before entering into discussion.

The federal government bought the Trans Mountain pipeline for $4.5 billion in 2018.

The appeals court said the challenges would proceed on a “highly expedited schedule.”

The First Nations that were granted leave to appeal are the Upper Nicola Band; the Tsleil-Waututh Nation; the Squamish Nation; the Coldwater Indian Band; Chief Ron Ignace and Chief Rosanne Casimir, on their own behalf and on behalf of all other members of the Stk’emlupsemc Te Secwepemc of the Secwepemc Nation; and Aitchelitz, Skowkale, Shxwhá:y Village, Soowahlie, Squiala First Nation, Tzeachten, Yakweakwioose.

The court said the approved challenges are limited to the “narrow issue of the adequacy of the Government of Canada’s further consultation with Indigenous peoples and First Nations between August 30, 2018 and June 18, 2019 and related issues.”

READ MORE: Canada’s bias meant improper consultations: First Nations challenging pipeline

The court said the decision to allow challenges based on First Nations consultations to proceed was made even after giving Ottawa “leeway” in its talks with the nations, as well as giving a high level of defence to the government’s right to approve the pipeline.

“Compliance with the duty to consult is not measured by a standard of perfection,” wrote Justice David Stratas in his reasons.

The appeals court first struck down Ottawa’s approval of the pipeline expansion in August, citing the National Energy Board’s failure to consider marine impacts and inadequate First Nations consultation.

The board re-approved the pipeline earlier this year, and the Trudeau government made the decision to proceed with the project on June 18.

In appeals that followed, First Nations said Canada again did not meaningfully consult with them.

Stratas wrote that the First Nations considered the further consultations rushed and as “window-dressing, box-ticking and nice-sounding words, not the hard work of taking on board their concerns, exploring possible solutions, and collaborating to get to a better place.”

He said the environmental challenges were denied because they were either the same as ones made in last August’s appeal, or ones that could and should have been made at that time. The court does not rehear old arguments.

Environmental concerns about the impact of increased marine traffic were dismissed because the National Energy Board’s “comprehensive, detail-laden, 678-page report” was found to have satisfied that requirement.

Environmental groups said they were disappointed with the decision.

“We remain committed to protecting the southern resident killer whales, fighting climate change, and holding Cabinet to account, and we will review our legal option in the coming weeks,” a statement from Ecojustice, Raincoast Conservation Foundation and Living Oceans Society said. “Given the urgency of this situation, we will not rule out taking our fight to the Supreme Court of Canada.”

The six parties granted leave to appeal must file notices of application for judicial review within seven days.

READ MORE: Environmental groups challenge Trans Mountain, citing killer whale concerns

READ MORE: Trans Mountain gives contractors 30 days to get workers, supplies ready for pipeline


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Interior Health officials outline pandemic response in virtual town hall

Kelowna-Lake County MLA Norm Letnick moderates digital discussion, Q&A with Interior Health leadership

MP Morrison touts non-partisan effort to provide relief amid COVID-19 pandemic

The federal government has announced a slew of economic initiatives for those impacted by the pandemic

B.C. COVID-19 contact restrictions working, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

’Not out of the woods yet’ as next two weeks are critical

Interior Health issues alert following confirmed COVID-19 case on WestJet flight

The public exposure alert comes following the March 21 WestJet flight from Calgary to Kamloops

United Way launches COVID-19 response plan to support the most vulnerable

The initiative will help with coordination efforts and raise funds, resources and awareness

B.C. is seeing the highest rate of COVID-19 recovery in Canada, and there’s a few reasons why

British Columbia was one of the first to see rise in COVID-19 cases, and has also switched up testing

Sewers stitch masks to free up supplies for front-line health-care workers

“We have little old ladies sewing up a storm,” said Joan Davis

Experts weigh in on best handling of groceries during COVID-19 pandemic

Study suggests the virus can live for up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to three days on plastic

COVID-19 world update: Enforceable quarantine in NYC?; France orders 1 billion masks

Spain warns EU’s future at stake; New York governor calls Trump’s idea ‘federal declaration of war

Earth Hour 2020 kicks off online Saturday night

Action moves online due to COVID-19

B.C. COVID-19 cases rise 92 to 884, one more death, 81 in care

Outbreak action underway in 12 long-term care homes

B.C. veterinarians want to smooth the fur of COVID-19-worried pet owners

Vets expect to continue giving your fur buddies the help they need while social distancing

B.C. VIEWS: Small businesses need our help

Just as integral in neighbourhoods in Vancouver and Surrey as they are in Prince George or Kelowna

‘Tremendous’ response from blood donors has supply keeping pace with demand

About 400,000 of Canada’s 37 million residents give blood on a regular basis

Most Read