Feds restart Indigenous pipeline consultations

Feds restart Indigenous pipeline consultations

First Nations are greeting the consultation launch with some caution

Indigenous communities are open to a new consultation on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, but many are greeting its launch with some caution.

The Liberals said Wednesday that they won’t appeal the August decision from the Federal Court of Appeal that tore up cabinet approval for the pipeline’s expansion.

Instead, Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi said the government is hiring former Supreme Court of Canada justice Frank Iacobucci to oversee a new round of consultations with affected Indigenous communities using the road map for those consultations the court laid out in its decision.

Iacobucci’s first order of business will be to oversee the process to design the consultations in concert with First Nations and Metis leaders. Consultations themselves won’t start until that design phase is completed, and there is no timeline for that.

RELATED: Feds restarting Indigenous talks over pipeline, won’t appeal court decision

Squamish First Nation, which has thus far opposed the construction of the pipeline, welcomed the decision not to appeal in a statement, but appeared wary about the new consultation process.

“Our nation expects an honourable consultation process that upholds our nation’s Indigenous rights,” said Khelsilem, a band councillor and spokesman for Squamish. “The Trudeau government tried to ram this project through our territory with a predetermined outcome and this was not acceptable to Squamish Nation or the courts.”

Khelsilem added artificial timelines would not be acceptable.

In the appeal, Squamish leaders told the court they didn’t feel they had enough information to decide how risky the pipeline was to their territory, which includes Burrard Inlet, the narrow water way through which as many as 35 oil tankers would travel each month carrying diluted bitumen away from the pipeline’s marine terminal in Burnaby, B.C.

Chief Michael LeBourdais of Whispering Pines Clinton Indian Band near Kamloops, B.C., said the new consultation is “extraordinarily ambitious.”

Whispering Pines supports the pipeline and was the first to sign a benefits agreement on the pipeline with Kinder Morgan Canada, which owned the pipeline until August 31 when the federal government bought it for $4.5 billion.

LeBourdais said the consultation is another opportunity to push for better benefits for First Nations, including a percentage of the value of the oil that flows through the pipeline, or an equity stake in the project.

The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion proposes to twin the existing pipeline that runs between Edmonton and Burnaby in order to triple its capacity and carry 600,000 barrels of diluted bitumen daily to oil tankers bound for export markets.

After being elected in 2015, the Liberals added another phase of consultations with Indigenous communities on the project hoping to overcome shortcomings in the process the court identified in the review of the now defunct Northern Gateway pipeline.

In its decision, the Federal Court of Appeal found that additional phase was only a note-taking exercise and that the government incorrectly believed it could not do anything about specific concerns raised, such as by altering the route to move the pipeline away from one community’s only source of drinking water, or ensure another community would be involved in deciding exactly where certain elements of the pipeline would be built on their territory.

Sohi said an appeal of the decision would take years and the government would rather respect the courts — a decision that riled Alberta Premier Rachel Notley who said the Liberals should pursue an appeal in tandem with new consultations.

Sohi said the government planned to put additional people on the file and ensure all government employees involved have a clear mandate not just to listen to concerns, but to figure out how they can be reasonably accommodated.

RELATED: Horgan, Trudeau speak on $40B LNG Canada investment in Kitimat

However, Sohi said reasonable accommodation does not mean every First Nation has to be on side before the project can proceed.

“We also understand there are still groups that will still oppose this project,” he said. “That’s fine. That’s their right to do so. But that does not mean that if we fulfil our constitutional obligation that those groups may have a veto to stop this project.”

NDP MP Romeo Saganash questioned whether the government could call the consultations meaningful when it is adamant the pipeline expansion proceed.

“Does the Prime Minister not recognize that consulting when the decision has already been made is not consultation as required by the Supreme Court of Canada?” Saganash asked in question period Wednesday.

Sohi said the government has made no assumptions about what cabinet will eventually recommendations, but the government still believes the project is in the national interest.

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Vetch cover crop beginning to flower. (Mary Lowther photo)
Mary Lowther column: Vetch and crimson clover to the rescue of soil fertility

I add dry organic fertilizer as plants use up what is in the soil.

Sarah Simpson
Sarah Simpson column: A shift in perspective can sometimes change everything

Have you even been forced to wake up at 5:30 on a Saturday

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

North Cowichan’s committee of the whole have rejected staff’s recommendation to limit the use of fireworks to Halloween. (File photo)
North Cowichan rejects limiting fireworks to Halloween

Municipality decides staff recommendation would be unpopular

Things are looking up for Vancouver Island as zero COVID-19 cases have been reported for the first time since October. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Island records zero new COVID-19 cases for the first time since October

For the first time since October, the province is reporting zero new… Continue reading

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Most Read