The BC Supreme Court has sided with First Nations groups in its battle against B.C. over oil pipelines.
“The province is getting a serious wakeup call about not listening properly to First Nations.”
Art Sterritt with the Coastal First Nation says a judge has ruled that the province must properly consult with First Nations on such projects.
Sterritt says the court also ruled B.C. can no longer surrender its decision-making powers on pipelines to the federal government.
“So now British Columbia, the court has said, you have an obligation to make your own decision. British Columbia has the authority now taken back by the courts to go ahead and reject Northern Gateway and in fact reject Kinder Morgan as well.”
He says this could affect proposals on liquefied natural gas facilities and even the Site C dam.
Justice Minister responds
The province hasn’t yet decided if it will appeal. It has 30 days to do so.
Justice Minister Suzanne Anton says the ruling simply says B.C. cannot surrender its decision-making authority.
“One of the things the court did not say was that we would have to repeat the whole process. All of the environmental evidence, the technical evidence, for example we don’t have to duplicate that. What we do have to do though is apply our own British Columbia assessment to it.”
Opposition fires back
While the Attorney General stresses the province takes consulting with First Nations very seriously the leader of the NDP couldn’t disagree more.
John Horgan says he has hard time believing Suzanne Anton on the same day the BC Supreme Court ruled the province failed in its obligation to consult First Nations on the Northern Gateway pipeline.
And Horgan adds that is not the only time the province has slipped up with First Nations.
“The government hasn’t adequately responded to the Tsilhqot’in decision. They didn’t appoint George Abbott to head up the treaty commission. Now we have got a scathing report saying they failed to accomodate and consult with respect Enbridge Norther Gateway. Basically this is three strikes and you are out with FIrst Nations.
He says the BC Supreme Court decision will impact the Site-C dam project, which First Nations bitterly opposed both on the ground and in the courtroom.