Canada high court dismisses case against pipeline


The Supreme Court of Canada dismissed an appeal by the Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations in British Columbia, ending their years-long battle against the construction of the Trans-Mountain Pipeline. The pipeline is a controversial project to carry crude oil between Alberta and British Columbia’s coast. The First Nations filed their appeal after a February decision by the Canadian Federal Court of Appeals that upheld the pipeline’s legality. “The consultation process initiated by Canada invited the participation of 129 indigenous groups impacted by the project,” stated that ruling, “and more than 120 either support or do not oppose it.” The Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh contested this. In a 2018 appeal, the Tsleil-Waututh nation asserted sovereignty over the land, and their “freestanding stewardship, harvesting and cultural rights in this area.” Both nations further claimed that the pipeline’s construction would obstruct access to water, game and agricultural resources.

The pipeline has existed since 1953 but the litigation has resulted from its current expansion, which began in 2013. At a cost of $7.4 billion, the new pipeline will carry up to 300,000 barrels of oil each day. Despite the promised economic benefits, the government of British Columbia has stated that it does not support the expansion project for environmental reasons. “Our government made it clear that a seven-fold increase in heavy oil tankers in the Vancouver harbour is not in BC’s best interests,” said Environment George Heyman in a press release. “Not for our economy, our environment, or thousands of existing jobs. We will use all available tools to protect our coastal waters and our province’s future.”

Nevertheless, the Canadian Supreme Court’s dismissal allows construction to go forward unhindered by further appeals.

From Jurist, July 4. Used with permission.

Note: The Supreme Court earlier this year ruled against a BC provincial effort to stop the pipeline expansion. Meanwhile, other pipeline battles are pending in British Columbia.

Photo: Mark Klotz/Flickr via  EcoWatch