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Canada Asked for Time to Work With Tsleil-Waututh to Reconcile Differences
NORTH VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA and MUSQUEAM, SQUAMISH AND TSLEIL-WAUTUTH TERRITORY--(Marketwired - Jan 22, 2016) - This morning, the Attorney General of Canada asked the Federal Court of Appeal to adjourn for three months Tsleil-Waututh's legal challenge of the National Energy Board's (NEB) review of Kinder Morgan's pipeline and tanker expansion proposal. The court granted the motion in part to allow the federal government time to review its litigation strategy and reconcile with Tsleil-Waututh's opposition to the expansion proposal.
The court ordered Canada to advise it by April 22, 2016 whether it will be changing its position in the case, and to file arguments about that position (should it change) by April 29, 2016. This adjournment will allow the new government time to establish a new relationship with Tsleil-Waututh.
Tsleil-Waututh voiced support for the motion before the court. "The government's pledge to engage us on a Nation-to-Nation basis is heartening. We have been asking for this for a very long time," said Tsleil-Waututh Chief Maureen Thomas. "I look forward to sitting down in good faith with the Crown," the Chief added.
The Prime Minister recently directed the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General of Canada to review Canada's current litigation and "take early decisions to end appeals or positions" inconsistent with campaign pledges and the values of Canadians. The motion today represents the first concrete step the new federal government has taken to correct deficiencies in the NEB's review of the Kinder Morgan expansion proposal.
Tsleil-Waututh's case argues that the former government and the NEB failed to consult with them in the design of the review process, which has been widely criticized for limiting public participation, excluding climate change impacts, and failing to meaningfully test evidence. While a delay in the appeal may increase regulatory uncertainty, it will provide time for reconciliation of the two governments' processes and positions.
Tsleil-Waututh also argues that the NEB's failure to review marine shipping activities under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 is a legal error. "Our own independent assessment of the project concluded that a seven-fold increase in tankers means that a spill is inevitable, that it will be devastating, and that it can't be cleaned up. The NEB is not properly considering the effects of marine shipping, which is a major concern for everyone who lives near the Salish Sea," said Rueben George, a spokesperson for Tsleil-Waututh's Sacred Trust Initiative.
In the meantime, the NEB is continuing with its flawed process, hearing oral arguments from intervenors in Burnaby from Jan. 19-29. Tsleil-Waututh is scheduled to make its final submissions to the NEB on January 26, 2016.
About Tsleil-Waututh Nation
Tsleil-Waututh Nation is a progressive, vibrant Coast Salish community of approximately 500 members. The Nation is located along the shores of Burrard Inlet in North Vancouver, B.C., Canada, across the Inlet from the Burnaby terminus of Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline.
The Nation's Sacred Trust Initiative is mandated to oppose and stop the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline and tanker expansion. For more information visit www.twnsacredtrust.ca and follow the Sacred Trust Initiative on Twitter: @TWNSacredTrust.