The Federal Court of Appeal rejected claims by the indigenous peoples of Canada known as First Nations that federal officials failed to adequately consult with them on the 1000-km of new Trans Mountain pipeline, removing the final major barrier hanging over the long-delayed project.
The decision is a huge setback for First Nation leaders and environmentalists, who have pledged to do whatever necessary to thwart the pipeline, including chaining themselves to construction equipment if need be.
Of foremost concern: tanker traffic is projected to balloon from about 60 to more than 400 vessels annually as the pipeline flow increases from 300,000 to 890,000 barrels a day.
The three judges of the Federal Court ruled unanimously that “reconciliation (with First Nations) does not dictate any particular substantive outcome” on a given resource project. They wrote that requiring a “perfect” level of consultation would in turn create a kind of de facto veto on major projects, and said First Nations “cannot tactically use the consultation process as a means to try to veto it.”
First Nations will have 60 days to appeal the Supreme Court decision.