Court ruled Ottawa had not adequately consulted Indigenous peoples along project’s route
By Chris Hall, John Paul Tasker, CBC News, Sep 20, 2016
Northern Gateway will not appeal a recent Federal Court of Appeal decision that overturned Ottawa’s approval of the controversial pipeline project.
The court ruled in June that the federal government had not adequately consulted with Indigenous peoples who will be affected by the project, which is backed by the energy company Enbridge, and which would stretch from outside Edmonton to a marine terminal in Kitimat, B.C.
“We believe that meaningful consultation and collaboration, and not litigation, is the best path forward for everyone involved,” the pipeline’s president, John Carruthers, said in a statement.
“We believe the government has a responsibility to meet their constitutional legal obligations to meaningfully consult with First Nations and Metis.”
The former Harper government gave the go-ahead to the Northern Gateway project after a National Energy Board joint review panel gave its approval subject to 209 conditions.
But the government was supposed to meet a constitutional requirement to consult with Indigenous peoples following the NEB’s approval, something the Federal Court said was not properly done.
“We find that Canada offered only a brief, hurried and inadequate opportunity … to exchange and discuss information and to dialogue,” the ruling said. “It would have taken Canada little time and little organizational effort to engage in meaningful dialogue on these and other subjects of prime importance to Aboriginal Peoples. But this did not happen.”
Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr has until Thursday to decide whether the government will appeal the decision or pursue an alternative scenario which could include launching full consultations with Indigenous peoples that would comply with the court’s ruling.
Then, the federal cabinet could make a decision to either reject or approve Northern Gateway based on those consultations or the project could be punted back to the National Energy Board for reconsideration.