B.C. Supreme Court rules government failed to consult First Nations on Northern Gateway

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Enbridge received another blow on Wednesday when B.C.'s Supreme Court ruled that the province neglected to properly consult with Gitga'at and Coastal First Nations on the Northern Gateway pipeline.

"This is a huge victory that affirms the provincial government's duty to consult with and accommodate First Nations and to exercise its decision-making power on major pipeline projects," said Arnold Clifton, Chief Councillor of the Gitga'at First Nation in a statement.

In June 2010, the B.C. Liberals signed an "equivalency agreement" with the federal government, giving final say of the project's environmental assessment to the National Energy Board.

However, this week the Supreme Court determined that the province had failed to uphold their responsibility of consulting with First Nations groups that would be affected by the proposal.

The challenge, one of many that were filed against the controversial pipeline, was brought forward by the Gitga'at First Nation and the Coastal First Nations.

The court's ruling on this case makes this equivalency agreement invalid and, while the federal government gave its stamp of approval on the project in 2014, the provincial government must now make its own environmental assessment and decision about the proposed pipeline.

They must also ensure that consultations with First Nations groups are included in this process.

As a result of this ruling, none of the permits, licenses and authorizations that are necessary for the project to proceed can be issued.

This isn't the first setback this project has experienced under the new Liberal government. While the pipeline would aim to transport 525,000 barrels of crude oil daily to Kitimat, B.C., Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated his desire last fall to ban tanker traffic on B.C.'s north coast, making international export of this oil all but impossible. 

"We've said it before," said Art Sterritt, member of the Gitga'at First Nation. "The Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline is dead."


Alyse Kotyk is a Vancouver-based writer and editor with a passion for social justice and storytelling. She studied English Literature and Global Development at Queen's University and is excited by media that digs deep, asks questions and shares narratives. Alyse was the Editor of Servants Quarters and has written for the Queen's News Centre, Quietly Media and the Vancouver Observer. She is now rabble's News Intern.

Photo: flickr/ Chris Yakimov

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