OTTAWA – Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi has personally met with leaders of nearly two dozen Indigenous communities since the Federal Court of Appeal struck down federal approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion in August.
The government is doing additional consultations with Indigenous communities affected by the pipeline expansion after the court said the original consultation was insufficient.
One of the court’s chief objections was that the bureaucrats who engaged with Indigenous communities listened and documented the concerns they raised but had no authority to do anything about those concerns or even answer some of the Indigenous groups’ questions.
Sohi says this time that has changed and he has a mandate to address the concerns raised where possible, and explain why not when it isn’t.
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He says he has already met with 22 Indigenous communities, including leaders from most of those that sued Ottawa over the pipeline.
Sohi maintains the Liberal government is not assuming the outcome of the consultations – even though Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the pipeline is going to be built and Ottawa laid down $4.5 billion to buy the project over the summer.