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Federal Appeal Court judges to rule on Northern Gateway pipeline

UBCIC posterThe Canadian Press reports, “The fate of the Northern Gateway pipeline project is now in the hands of a trio of Federal Appeal Court judges who reserved their decision [on Thursday October 8] on whether to uphold or quash the government’s approval of the controversial project.” If the environmental approval certificates were quashed by the court, the project could not continue.

The Gitga’at First Nation, Gitxaala Nation, Haida Nation, Haisla Nation, Heiltsuk Nation, Kitasoo Xai’Xais Nation, Nadleh Whut’en and Nak’azdli Whut’en took the mater to court. They all oppose the 1,200 kilometre, 525,000 barrels per day pipeline and are seeking to protect their land and water from its impacts.

The article notes, “A collection of First Nations, environmental groups and a labour union launched the appeal, asserting that the panel tasked with reviewing the pipeline proposal didn’t adequately consult with aboriginal groups nor sufficiently consider the environmental impact. …Over six days of legal arguments in Vancouver, the court heard the government didn’t get aboriginal consent or consider the impact on the environment when it approved the project…”

On the pro-Northern Gateway pipeline side, “Lewis Manning, lawyer for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, which is an intervener in the proceedings, told the court the Joint Review Panel made ‘every conceivable effort’ to accommodate participation and did its best to mitigate concerns. …Federal government lawyer Jan Brongers acknowledged there might have been flaws in the process, but he raised the question of how much imperfection should be allowed.”

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs has stated, “There is very, very little support for the oil pipelines in British Columbia. First Nations have said no, and in the event that the government of Canada continues to attempt to ram this forward, we’ll move into the courtrooms. There will be several protracted lawsuits … [and] I can absolutely foresee people moving on to the land in the event that the oil companies attempt to do preparatory work in terms of site preparation.” The Globe and Mail has reported, “Asked whether he meant protesters would block bulldozers, he replied: ‘Absolutely. There is no question about that.'”

AJ vs EnbridgeThe Council of Canadians is opposed to the Northern Gateway pipeline and stands with the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs. We also stand with the Unist’ot’en action camp, which has built permanent structures on its territory to effectively block the only route of the pipeline through mountain ranges. At the invitation of the Yinka Dene Alliance, Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow joined with other allies in signing a Solidarity Accord to the Save the Fraser Declaration in December 2013. That declaration, signed by more than 130 First Nations in British Columbia, bans pipelines and tankers from their territories.

At the signing, Barlow stated, “I am honoured to sign this historic document as it is crucially important that community and civil society stand in solidarity with Indigenous peoples in their resistance to these pipelines. We recognize and respect First Nations’ decisions to ban tar sands pipelines and tankers from their territories and we offer our support and solidarity in upholding the Save the Fraser Declaration.”

She has also commented, “Stopping the Northern Gateway pipeline is one of the most important fights we have right now. If we allow Northern Gateway to go ahead, it will mean a massive expansion of the tar sands, more harm to the land, water and climate, and yet another delay for the clean energy future we need. First Nations are opposed to Northern Gateway. They are the rightful stewards of their lands and should be the ones to decide if and how they are developed. The Council of Canadians will stand with them in the coming battles to stop this pipeline.”

On October 1, the first day of the court hearings this week, the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs called for a United Against Enbridge solidarity rally outside the Federal Court building. Council of Canadians organizer AJ Klein joined with about 500 others in this #UnitedAgainstEnbridge rally.

Photos: UBCIC ‘United Against Enbridge’ solidarity rally poster. AJ Klein at the #UnitedAgainstEnbridge protest. Photo by Mel Clifton.