Ottawa still didn’t consult properly on Trans Mountain: First Nations – by Geoffrey Morgan (Financial Post – December 17, 2019)

CALGARY – The federal government failed again to properly consult with affected First Nations groups on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project, lawyers for groups opposed to the pipeline said Monday.

Lawyers for First Nations groups opposed to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project between Alberta and British Columbia argued before the Federal Court of Appeal in Vancouver on Monday that Ottawa, once again, had not upheld its duty to meaningfully consult with Aboriginal communities on the project.

Scott Smith, a partner with Gowling WLG acting on behalf of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, referenced comments by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau that described the federal government’s commitment the project “will be built” and “to get shovels back into the ground” as evidence that Ottawa’s consultations were not meaningful.

Federal politicians, he said, were “unilaterally focused on approving the project.” “The order-in-council must be quashed,” Smith said as he argued that the Appeals Court should overturn federal cabinet’s approval of the project because Ottawa had “once again fallen well short of the mark” on consultation.

In particular, Smith said the government withheld important scientific evidence and studies on environmental impacts from the Tsleil-Waututh during the consultation period even when those studies had been requested.

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