The Tsleil-Waututh Nation says it is considering appealing a Federal Court of Appeal decision to allow for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion to proceed.
Nation spokesperson Reueben George says in a separate case the Supreme Court of Canada is currently looking at whether the court assessed the proper scope of Trans Mountain.
“This is not over,” George said.
“We are still trudging forward. We have always said we would do everything in our power to stop the pipeline. We have proven it’s not in the best interest of our nation’s standing here.”
George says courts broke the law by not allowing the Tsleil-Waututh to submit all the information they had “in a short window of time.”
“We knew it wasn’t fair. But we are ready,” George said.
The Federal Court of Appeal ruled on Tuesday that Ottawa’s approval of the project was reasonable and will stand.
The federal government was forced to go back and consult with First Nations after the federal court ruled in favour of the Tsleil-Waututh, the B.C. government and other First Nations last year over a lack of consultation and a lack of consideration for an increase in tanker traffic.
In a December hearing, the First Nations opposed to the project argued that the government went into consultations with Indigenous communities in the fall of 2018 having predetermined the outcome in favour of building the project.
But the three judges who decided the case say cabinet’s second round of consultations with First Nations affected by the pipeline was “anything but a rubber-stamping exercise.”
George says his community didn’t feel the courts properly dealt with research done by the community.
“We have done studies. Economical assessments. Studies on the orcas. These things were ignored today. Reconciliation stopped today,” George said.
“This government is incapable of making sound decisions for our future generations. So we are and we will. Even for their children we will take those steps to make sure Canada stays the way it is.”
B.C. Premier John Horgan acknowledged last week that there is not much more the province can do to stop the pipeline. Environment Minister George Heyman says the province will continue to work outside the legal system.
“Our government remains concerned about the risks posed by diluted bitumen and the potential of a catastrophic oil spill on our coast,” Heyman said.
“We will continue to urge the federal government to ensure that the strongest protections possible are put in place to protect our environment, public safety, our coast and the tens of thousands of jobs that are at risk from a spill.”
The expansion project would triple the capacity of the existing pipeline between Edmonton and a shipping terminal in Burnaby, B.C.
The federal government purchased the pipeline in 2018 after political opposition to the project from the B.C. government and Indigenous groups caused Kinder Morgan Canada to pull out from building the expansion.
“This project cannot go through. We are standing on our own Indigenous law,” Tsleil-Waututh Chief Leah George-Wilson said.
–with files from the Canadian Press