First Nations court challenges continue to hang over $7.4-billion Trans Mountain pipeline expansion

Vancouver Sun, April 19, 2018:

First Nations court challenges that allege inadequate consultation and seek to overturn federal and B.C. approval of the $7.4-billion Trans Mountain oil pipeline expansion have been overshadowed by recent debate on federal and provincial powers to regulate oil transport.

But legal experts say the First Nations cases have real implications that should not be overlooked or forgotten.

When the Federal Court of Appeal in 2016 overturned approval of Enbridge’s $7.9-billion Northern Gateway oil pipeline, finding Ottawa had failed to properly consult First Nations, it all but signalled the end for the project.

“A lot of the focus in the last week and a half has come to be about the federal/provincial issue and that’s obviously a major issue. But the Indigenous rights issue is a major legal issue as well,” said University of Saskatchewan law professor Dwight Newman.

University of B.C. law professor Margot Young said the Indigenous rights’ question — and the ruling from the courts — is a critical question that has yet to be answered.

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