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Chippewas of the Thames First Nation take their case to the Supreme Court of Canada

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Citizens and members of First Nations have the right to demand that the National Energy Board respect the Aboriginal and Treaty Rights of the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation regarding pipeline energy projects criss-crossing their territories.

Without consultation with, and consent from, the Chippewas of the Thames, Enbridge Corporation does not have the right to pump potentially dangerous oils through communities. Other First Nations along the pipeline route deserve the same respect of true informed disclosure and consent along other First Nations in Southern Ontario and Quebec. 

What is at stake here is the path that Enbridge Corp. Line 9 is taking through southern Ontario and Quebec.

Chippewas of the Thames First Nation is currently seeking leave from the Supreme Court to appeal a decision of the Federal Court of Appeal which upheld a National Energy Board decision granting Enbridge Pipeline Inc.’s ("Enbridge") authorization to reverse a section of pipeline between North Westover, Ontario and Montreal, Quebec.

This would expand the annual capacity of the line from Sarnia, Ontario to Montreal from 240,000 bpd to 300,000 bpd, and to allow heavy crude, containing diluted bitumen, to be shipped along Line 9.

Yes, it is easy to quip that this pipeline already exists, but not in a reverse flow capacity.

Another issue is the potential for accidents, and on whose territories the accidents could take place. And whose responsibility it is to declare an emergency and who would be responsible for cleaning it up.

Chippewas of the Thames First Nation have appeared before the National Energy Board and provided evidence of its existing Aboriginal and Treaty Rights in the vicinity of the pipeline project and potential risks associated with the new activity requested by Enbridge.

Informed consent is the positive operational standpoint when dealing with First Nations caught in the crosshairs of big business. This includes duty to consult even before ground is broken.

The duty to consult with First Nations people and accommodate their interests are in fact a constitutional duty invoking honour of the Crown, wherein it's required that the Crown act with good faith to provide meaningful consultation appropriate to the circumstances, and must be upheld.

We all know what "Good Faith" meant under the Conservative government under Stephen Harper. Hopefully, we will see something different under Liberal Party leader. Justin Trudeau. While his father had not always been allies with First Nations through his White Paper, there is hope that the younger Trudeau will manage Indigenous affairs in a different way.

Not that the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation can function on hope. They have many supporters from each town or Nation that Enbridge Line 9 crosses.   

This said, Enbridge is actively attempting to lobby to bypass the legal Court of Appeal in order to start pumping heavy oil through the aging pipeline built for light oil through eight First Nations, many of whom were not consulted on the reversal project, as required by the Canadian Constitution. And the National Energy Board, closely tied to the Harper government and Big Oil, is likely to let Enbridge get away with it.

This is why The Chippewas of the Thames First Nation are appealing the National Energy Board's approval the Line 9 reversal, and are going to The Supreme Court of Canada.

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