Canada: court blocks Northern Gateway pipeline

Canada's Federal Court of Appeal overturned approval of Enbridge energy company's controversial Northern Gateway pipeline that would link Alberta's oil sands to British Columbia's north coast. In the 2-1 ruling June 30, the three-judge panel found that Ottawa failed to properly consult the First Nations affected by the project. That the federal government's consultation efforts "fell well short of the mark," the ruling stated. "We find that Canada offered only a brief, hurried and inadequate opportunity…to exchange and discuss information and to dialogue." President of British Columbia's Haida Nation, Peter Lantin, said: "It's a great day for Haida Gwaii and the coast of BC. We're all celebrating a victory for the oceans and our way of life."

The Haida Nation statement called for Canada to follow the recommendations of its own Truth and Reconciliation Commission and approach its dealings with First Nations "as partners in confederation." "This ruling opens the space again for the Liberal government to move forward on their promises to the Indigenous peoples in this country," said Lantin.

The challenge was brought by the Haida and seven other First Nations (Gitxaala, Haisla, Gitga-at, Kitasoo Xai'Xais, Heiltsuk, Nadleh Whut'en and Nak'azdli Whut'en), four environmental groups and the BC Government and Service Employees' Union. (CBC, Canadian Press, Haida Nation press release, June 30, Canadian Press, Feb. 4)

This is the latest in a series of recent Canadian court rulings upholding of the rights of prior consultation and aboriginal title.