VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Members of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation are vowing to continue their fight against a controversial pipeline project despite a Supreme Court decision Thursday.
Canada’s top court has refused to hear appeals from several First Nations and environmental groups who oppose the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion, which has been federally approved, twice.
“We are disappointed in this result, but our opposition remains unchanged. We will be appealing the consultation case to the Supreme Court of Canada. This isn’t over by a long shot,” Tsleil-Waututh Chief Leah Sisi-ya-ama George-Wilson said after the court’s decision.
The Tsleil-Waututh Nation announced on Thursday it would appeal the Coldwater decision, “which upheld the approval of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project (TMX) after finding consultation to be adequate.”
“We took this issue to the Supreme Court of Canada not only to stand up for our inherent and constitutionally protected rights, but also to make sure that Canada follows their own laws when making decisions,” Chief George-Wilson said.
As usual, the Supreme Court did not provide any reasons for its decision.
Canada’s top court’s decision came almost exactly a month after the Federal Court of Appeal upheld the government’s second approval of the expansion project. In that case, First Nations groups had argued in December the government went into consultations with Indigenous communities a year prior having predetermined the outcome in favour of the expansion.
Groups among those listed in the judgement have expressed their disappointment with the court’s decision, with one environmental activist calling it “unfortunate.”
“The Supreme Court has never considered how the Species at Risk Act is supposed to work with environmental assessments to protect species that are at risk,” Karen Wristen, executive director of the Living Oceans Society, said. “So we regret the loss of the opportunity to both reconcile the law and do something positive for the Resident Killer Whale.”
She argued the Supreme Court “is not transparent” when it comes to its reasons to hear one case or another, and believes the dismissal doesn’t send a broader message about the project itself.
The Tsleil-Waututh Nation has also called out the federal government for its “failure to apply the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act” of 2012, as well as the Species at Risk Act, adding by not doing so, Canada “will put the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales at greater risk of extinction.”
“Canada’s reliance on stale-dated economic evidence will not be examined, in spite of the fact that the oil and gas industry in Canada is in a decline, and TMX is no longer needed nor economically feasible at the new $12.6 billion construction cost,” Chief George-Wilson said. “This will leave Canadian taxpayers on the hook for what will likely become a stranded asset.”
The Nation expects to file another appeal “in the next few weeks.”
-With file from The Canadian Press