Assembly of First Nations in Quebec, Labrador, formally opposes Energy East

In this December 10, 2014 file photo, Ghislain Picard speaks at the Assembly of First Nations Election in Winnipeg.
In this December 10, 2014 file photo, Ghislain Picard speaks at the Assembly of First Nations Election in Winnipeg. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Trevor Hagan

QUEBEC – The Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador has formally declared its opposition to TransCanada’s proposed Energy East pipeline.

A resolution adopted Wednesday at a conference in Quebec City requests that Ghislain Picard, the AFN chief for the region, lead opposition to the 4,500-kilometre oil pipeline, both inside and
outside the province of Quebec.

The three-page resolution asserts that Energy East poses “the very real risk of a toxic tarsands spill that could not be adequately cleaned up” and says the 1.1-million barrels a day conduit will also “fuel catastrophic climate change.”

READ MORE: Quebec environmental groups file court motion challenging Energy East

And it says the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People – officially adopted last month by the Trudeau government – bolsters their rights over lands and resources affected
by the pipeline project.

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The resolution calls on the federal and Quebec governments to fulfil their constitutional obligations “including completely overhauling the NEB’s review of the project in collaboration with First Nations.”

It’s just the latest Quebec hurdle for TransCanada, which has already shelved plans for a tanker terminal at Cacouna, Que., due to concerns over beluga calving grounds in the Saint Lawrence.

A group of mayors from the Montreal area caused a national furor in January when they came out against the pipeline crossing their municipalities, saying the potential spill risks were too high.

WATCH BELOW: Montral-area mayors cause uproar for speaking out against Energy East pipeline

Amid the vocal opposition, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall will be in Montreal on Thursday to meet Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard as he continues a cross-country tour to advocate for building the $15.7-billion pipeline to New Brunswick.

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READ MORE: Pipeline support strong at East Coast Energy Connection Conference

The new Liberal government in Ottawa has said major resource projects cannot go forward without better consultations with indigenous communities, but it has also maintained that First Nations do not hold a veto over development.

The National Energy Board is holding a news conference Thursday in Calgary to provide an update on the Energy East regulatory process. The Liberals have said a decision on the pipeline
application isn’t expected for at least another two years.

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