This morning, the Federal Court of Appeal ruled in favour of Gitxaała Nation and all of the other parties who brought legal challenges to the Northern Gateway Pipeline Project. The decision can be read here.
The Court struck down the federal government’s approval of the Project because the government failed to meet its constitutional duty to consult with potentially affected First Nations about the effects of the Project on their rights. The process used by Canada to evaluate this project was found to be inadequate and did not satisfy the duty to consult. Canada did not share necessary information or consider important issues raised by Gitxaała and other First Nations, and did not allow for meaningful dialogue. In doing that, Canada failed to provide the meaningful consultation required by the honour of the Crown and that is necessary to advance reconciliation between Indigenous people and the government of Canada.
The Court directed the federal government to properly consult with First Nations in good faith before it decides again whether to approve the Project.
This is a major victory for the First Nations, whose rights and interests were ignored in the assessment of the Project’s costs and benefits, in a process where the government had already decided to approve the Project and refused to hear their concerns. It is also a resounding win for the environmental and union organizations who were part of this litigation, and who sought to hold the government accountable for the process used to evaluate the significant environmental effects of industrial projects like this proposed pipeline.
Gitxaała Nation was represented by a team of JFK Law lawyers, including Robert Janes Q.C., Elin Sigurdson and Chris Evans. We congratulate Gitxaała Nation on this result and on their steadfast commitment to preserving their rights and title, and the lands and waters of their territories.
A more in-depth analysis of this significant decision will follow.