I am relieved that the Federal Court of Appeal has quashed the Justin Trudeau Liberal government’s approval of the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project.
As an individual intervenor in the National Energy Board review of the proposal, I have been an outspoken critic of their process for the past four years. It was a terribly flawed process on numerous levels. In my Aboriginal Oral Testimony, I called the process a “dog and pony show.” In my Final Argument I called the process “a circus” that “has allowed for a shockingly low threshold for Trans Mountain to cross.”
Recognizing the threat to the Salish Sea
As the elected MLA for Saanich North and the Islands, I represent the heart of the Salish Sea. I am delighted that the threat to this critical ecosystem and critically endangered species like the Southern Resident Killer Whales, from the massive increase of tanker traffic, has been recognized and the total failure of the NEB and the Federal Government to consider the marine impacts of the project in their decision.
As a member of Tsartlip and WSANEC, who has treaty-protected fishing and commercial rights in the Salish Sea, I am not surprised that the Federal Court of Appeal has decided that the Federal Government failed in their duty consult and accommodate Indigenous people. This has been a fundamental flaw in the process from the very beginning. So, when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau suggests this project is in the national interest, he has misled the Canadian public. The national interest includes the federal government legally dispensing their duty to consult and accommodate Indigenous people.
Final Argument to the NEB
As I stated to the NEB panel in closing my final argument,
“These are issues that we have inherited, no one in this room can be blamed for causing these challenges that confront us, the Douglas Treaty, the First Nations, the non-First Nations, the history. But, we are responsible for what we do with the information that we have, and our ability to influence what we and others do in the future, take hold of that opportunity.
Please don’t continue to narrow your scope in order to create the perfect conditions to recommend approval. Just as you did by choosing not to fund certain intervenors like me. Just as you did by removing oral cross-examination of the applicant, the proponents, the intervenors and their evidence. And, just as you did by deciding to scope the upstream and downstream impacts out of this hearing.
I ask you to broaden your scope, to send a message to the proponent, the Government of Canada, the Canadian public, including Indigenous Peoples’, that the NEB is not captured by industry. You can send that message, by dismissing this proposal and not rewarding Trans Mountain for an incomplete and frankly offensive application, and the Federal Government for stripping environmental protections and the handing environmental assessments to the National Energy Board and enabling this process.
By dismissing this application you will take the power that has been vested in you and send a strong message to the public. A message that we may be able to trust your future recommendations, and that you will be further strengthened to take this opportunity to make the clear statement that you are not going to approve applications that fail to provide basic answers to important questions about pipeline and marine spill response capability and safety and that the Crown must take full responsibility for treaty and Aboriginal rights.”
These issues were painfully clear two years ago when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stood staring directly into the lens and announced approval of this project. They were clear as the flawed NEB process unfolded.
Standing up for good process
As an MLA, father and member of the community I will continue to stand up for the Salish Sea, the Southern Resident Killer Whales, and our coastline. I will always stand up for the interests of our riding. I will demand that the federal and provincial governments environmental assessments are thorough. And, I will insist that the Government of Canada legally dispenses its duty to consult and accommodate Indigenous people.
I have met with constituents in recent months who have expressed their support for the pipeline. I am thankful for the opportunity to discuss the project with them. We have agreed and disagreed on aspects of the project. I look forward to continuing the conversation about energy and the future of transporting bitumen. I have maintained that responsible governments undertake processes that protect the interests of their people. As the Federal Court of Appeal determined today, the Federal Government failed all Canadians on that front.
Shining a light…
Finally, I raise my hands to everyone who participated in this process. The intervenors, community leaders, elders, youth and interest groups. Collectively, we shone a light on the areas that our government and the proponent intentionally left in the darkness. Thank you for your unrelenting love and effort on this important project.
My daughter Ella asked, “Dad is your work done?”
I said, “No sweetie. It has just begun!”