In a major victory for Trans Mountain, Federal Court dismisses Indigenous appeal of project’s approval – by John Paul Tasker (CBC News Politics – February 3, 2020)

The Federal Court of Appeal has dismissed an appeal by Indigenous groups challenging the federal government’s approval of the Trans Mountain expansion project — clearing yet another major legal hurdle for the long-delayed $7.4 billion project, which will carry nearly a million barrels of Alberta oil per day to the B.C. coast.

In a unanimous 3-0 decision, the court ruled that Ottawa carried out “reasonable” and “meaningful” consultations with Indigenous peoples affected by the project’s construction before approving the pipeline for a second time.

“This was anything but rubber-stamping exercise. The end result was not a ratification of the earlier approval, but an approval with amended conditions flowing directly from renewed consultation,” the court said. “All very much consistent with the concepts of reconciliation and the honour of the Crown.”

As part of the consultation process, Ottawa sent 60 Crown representatives to meet with 120 Indigenous communities in both Alberta and B.C. The team gathered thousands of submissions and directed cabinet to impose additional conditions on the project based on the feedback they gathered — which Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his ministers did in approving the project last year.

No Indigenous veto, says court

“The case law is clear that although Indigenous peoples can assert their uncompromising opposition to a project, they cannot tactically use the consultation process as a means to try and veto it,” the court ruled. “Canada must act in good faith, but at the same time accommodation cannot be dictated by Indigenous groups.”

For the rest of this article: