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Victory for First Nations — BC Court rules on No. Gateway Project

By Karen Graham     Jan 13, 2016 in World
Vancouver - First Nations were the victors in a major battle against Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline carried out in the B.C. Supreme Court on Wednesday. The court ruled that First Nations had not been adequately consulted.
In a nutshell, the B.C. government acted improperly and tried "playing a bit of politics," said Art Sterritt, a Gitga'at First Nations member and vocal critic of the pipeline, when it gave Ottawa the responsibility for assessing the Northern Gateway Pipeline.
And that is basically what the B.C. Supreme Court said in handing down a ruling in favor of the First nations. In the ruling, the Supreme Court ruled: "BC government abdicated its statutory duties and breached its duty to consult with the Nation when it signed and failed to terminate an Equivalency Agreement that handed the federal National Energy Board (NEB) sole jurisdiction over the environmental assessment decision-making regarding Enbridge's Northern Gateway project."
The whole argument, just one of many involving the project, stemmed from B.C.s agreement with Ottawa to hold just one environmental assessment, and that was with the National Energy Board (NEC), instead of holding federal and provincial assessments.
As it turned out, the federal government went ahead and approved the pipeline in 2014. However, First Nations representatives argued the province wasn't living up to its duty and never consulted with any of the First Nations along the proposed route of the pipeline.
"This is a huge victory that affirms the provincial government's duty to consult with and accommodate First Nations and to exercise its decision-making power on major pipeline projects," said Arnold Clifton, Chief Councillor of the Gitga'at First Nation, according to
As it turns out, even though the pipeline already has federal approval, there is some doubt it will go any further. B,C, would have to start the approval process all over again, from consulting every First nation along the pipeline's path, as well as get the required environmental assessment.
Not only that but Northern Gateway still has five of the 209 conditions for approval left to fulfill. One of them involves oil tankers, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has promised a ban on oil tankers on B.C.s North coast, and so far, he has kept all his promises.
The Constitutional challenge was brought by the Gitga'at First Nation and the Coastal First Nations and was argued by Joseph Arvay, Q.C. along with his colleagues Catherine Boies Parker and Tim Dickson at Farris LLP. Arvay is one of Canada's pre-eminent constitutional lawyers and an expert in Aboriginal and administrative law.
More about BC supreme court, Enbridge Northern Gateway, First nations, agreement invalid, start from scratch
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