B.C. Supreme Court hands another setback to Northern Gateway pipeline

VANCOUVER -- An alliance of First Nations is celebrating a British Columbia Supreme Court ruling that it says could set back the Northern Gateway pipeline by years and throw a wrench into another high-profile project review.

See Full Article

The case was brought forward by the Gitga'at First Nation and Coastal First Nations, which represents nine aboriginal communities along B.C.'s northern and central coast, including the Gitg'aat.

At the centre of the challenge was an equivalency agreement in which British Columbia gave the National Energy Board the power to review the controversial pipeline proposal. The court found the province "breached the honour of the Crown" by failing to consult with the Gitga'at and Coastal First Nations.

That means the equivalency agreement is invalid and the province must make its own decision on Northern Gateway -- after consulting with and accommodating First Nations along the route.

"We're now at the point where if Northern Gateway as a company wanted to move ahead, it would almost have to start over," said Art Sterritt, a member of the Gitga'at who's been a staunch opponent of Northern Gateway.

Northern Gateway has had a federal permit in hand -- with 209 conditions attached -- since mid-2014, but the company has not officially committed to building the project. Instead, it has been looking to garner support from First Nations along the route.

The ruling is the latest setback for the project, which aims to ship 525,000 barrels of oilsands crude a day to the port of Kitimat, B.C., for export to Asia. The federal Liberal government has said it wants to formalize a tanker ban on B.C.'s north coast -- a move many say would essentially kill the project.

Northern Gateway spokesman Ivan Giesbrecht said Enbridge remains committed and that the NEB's review was one of the "most exhaustive" in Canadian history.

"This decision from the British Columbia Supreme Court does not change that approval," he said, adding the company welcomes the court's direction for more aboriginal consultation and will continue to work with all levels of government.

"This comes down to a jurisdictional matter between the federal and provincial governments."

Joseph Arvey, lead counsel for the petitioners, said it's a "very significant" decision that goes beyond Northern Gateway.

"The court said that the province abdicated, gave away its powers to the federal government over the Northern Gateway project when it entered into this so-called equivalency agreement with the NEB. But it entered into exactly the same equivalency agreement with the NEB on the Kinder Morgan project," he said.

The B.C. government said this week it could not support Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain expansion, which would triple the amount of crude shipped from Alberta to the Vancouver area, because it hasn't met its five conditions.

"As far as I'm concerned, the province should congratulate us on this win even though they opposed us in the court," said Arvey. "The court essentially provided the province with the legal backbone that it didn't have up until this point."

B.C. Justice Minister Suzanne Anton said the province is reviewing the decision, but the interpretation so far is that the province won't have to duplicate the entire review process.

"Our reading of it is not that the judge is requiring us to do everything all over again. But what we do have to do is assess our B.C. requirement as per our B.C. statute and make sure that we're complying with those requirements," she said.

Tara O'Donovan, a spokeswoman for the National Energy Board, declined to comment on what the ruling would mean for other projects under review.

Sterritt, with the Gitga'at. said he's been pleased with the shift in tone at the federal level when it comes to aboriginal engagement, and he's hoping Wednesday's ruling spurs a similar change in B.C.

"Maybe this will be that final straw that will make British Columbia realize that you don't just agree with First Nations when they like your project," he said. "You basically have to listen to them and work with them even when they don't like your project."



Advertisements

Latest Economic News

  • Uber Canada hits back at Liberal plan to charge tax on rides

    Economic CBC News
    Uber Canada says it wants the federal government to hit the brakes on plans to charge GST/HST on ride-hailing fares. Finance Minister Bill Morneau unveiled the proposed tax in Wednesday's budget. An executive with Uber's Canadian operations on Thursday called it a "tax on innovation" that would hurt Uber drivers and users. Source
  • Uber decries new tax measures on ride-hailing announced in federal budget

    Economic CTV News
    TORONTO -- Uber is crying foul over new tax measures announced in the federal government budget that would see the company subject to the same sales tax rules applied to taxi drivers. The Liberal government's budget Wednesday included amending the definition of a taxi business to include ride-hailing services such as Uber and subject them to the same GST and HST rules as taxis. Source
  • Ontario piloting financial literacy classes

    Economic CTV News
    TORONTO -- Students in more than two dozen Ontario high schools are taking part in a pilot project aimed at teaching them financial skills necessary to succeed in the new global economy. The Liberal government says the project, which is underway in 28 schools, is part of its promise to improve financial literacy education. Source
  • Air Miles suspends redemption of Cash Miles in stores after some are 'stolen'

    Economic CTV News
    The loyalty program Air Miles says that it is temporarily suspending the ability to redeem “Cash Miles” in stores after the company realized “Cash Miles have been stolen” in a “small number of in-store Air Miles Cash transactions. Source
  • Enbridge spill east of Edmonton estimated at 10,000 litres of crude oil

    Economic CTV News
    CALGARY -- The National Energy Board says about 10,000 litres of light crude oil spilled Monday at a storage site east of Edmonton. Enbridge said that as of Tuesday morning, it had recovered almost all of the oil, which had leaked from a tank value in an industrial area of Strathcona County. Source
  • B.C. reports 64 pipeline benefit deals with 29 northern First Nations

    Economic CTV News
    VICTORIA - The British Columbia government says it has completed benefit agreements with 90 per cent of the eligible First Nations along four proposed natural gas pipeline routes across northern B.C. The Ministry of Aboriginal Relations says 64 natural gas pipeline benefits contracts have been signed with 29 First Nations and that most include initial financial payments worth over $1 million. Source
  • Disney CEO Bob Iger gets contact extension to July 2019

    Economic CTV News
    NEW YORK -- Disney CEO Bob Iger is getting a one-year contract extension. The Walt Disney Co. on Thursday ended any speculation that Iger would retire this year, extending contract to July 2, 2019. Source
  • Canada gets green light to join controversial China-led infrastructure bank

    Economic CTV News
    OTTAWA -- Canada has been approved to join a controversial new international infrastructure bank led by China. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank says Canada is among 13 applicants approved for membership in the bank by its board of governors. Source
  • Disney, Universal battle tax bills for Florida theme parks

    Economic CTV News
    ORLANDO, Fla. -- It takes a lot of land to accommodate Cinderella's castle, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Epcot's 11-country World Showcase -- and a hefty purse to pay the property taxes on it. Source
  • Mickey vs. the tax man: Disney, Universal fight tax bills

    Economic CTV News
    ORLANDO, Fla. -- It takes a lot of land to accommodate Cinderella's castle, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Epcot's 11-country World Showcase -- and a hefty purse to pay the property taxes on it. Source