Landmark win for First Nations in dispute over Trans Mountain Oil Pipeline

The expansion of the Kinder Morgan oil pipeline halts, as the Canadian Federal Court of Appeal ruled unanimously on Thursday that Justin Trudeau’s government failed to adequately address environmental concerns and consult with First Nation peoples.

While the Prime Minister has often portrayed his attitude as reconciliatory, the Court determined that consultation with Indigenous peoples lacked “a genuine and sustained effort to pursue meaningful, two-way dialogue.” The Court concluded that, “Canada acknowledged it owed a duty of deep consultation to each Indigenous applicant. More was required of Canada.”

The decision met with widespread approval among Aboriginal and environmental organisations. “Thankfully, the Court has stepped in where Canada has failed to protect and respect our rights and our water,” Coldwater Indian Band chief Lee Spahan said in a statement.

Court’s decision also casts a doubt on the credibility of the governing Liberal party, some experts say. Notwithstanding the decision, the government is still expected to purchase the pipeline from Kinder Morgan, who abandoned the project in April in the wake of environmental protests.

The dispute goes back to late 2016 when the federal government first approved the plans. “Our duty is to permit infrastructure so Canada’s resources get to market in a more environmentally responsible way, creating jobs and a thriving economy,” argued Justin Trudeau in support of the pipeline back in 2016.

The authorities of Burnaby, where the construction took place, opposed the project by denying construction permits. “We think it’s quite proper to have the bylaws of the city and the regulations of the province to apply, even if it’s a federal project,” commented the Mayor of Burnaby Derek Corrigan. The city is concerned with the environment. “I lived in fear when I worked for Trans Mountain, because the reality is that no amount of equipment or people is going to change the fact that in the event of a spill, they will be able to recover very little,” explained Romilly Cavanaugh, former environmental engineer for the Trans Mountain Pipeline who now opposes the construction.

Read full decision below:

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Featured image was taken in Burnaby, British Columbia, in March 2018 by Rogue Canada.

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