Squamish Nation files legal challenge: Suit challenges NEB approval of pipeline project

The Squamish Nation has filed a lawsuit in the federal court against Trans Mountain Pipeline, asking the court to quash conditional approval given to Kinder Morgan’s pipeline expansion project by National Energy Board in May.

The Squamish lawsuit, filed this week, argues the approval for the project was given without adequately consulting the First Nation on how the pipeline expansion could impact the Squamish’s aboriginal rights.

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Squamish Chief Ian Campbell said the Squamish filed the lawsuit to force the government to conduct a proper process that would involve meaningful consultation with First Nations “as well as other British Columbians who have expressed very serious concerns about this proposal.”

“We were completely dissatisfied with the NEB process,” said Campbell.

Campbell said the three-person panel appointed by the federal government to conduct additional consultation following the NEB approval is “too little, too late.”

The Squamish are the second North Shore First Nation to file a lawsuit challenging the project. The Tsleil-Waututh filed a lawsuit against the National Energy Board, the federal government and Trans Mountain in 2014, arguing they had not been properly consulted.

Last week, Campbell and Tsleil-Waututh Chief Maureen Thomas joined representatives from the Musqueam Nation and Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson in Ottawa to lobby against the pipeline expansion.

Campbell said the group met with Liberal MPs and ministers, including Minister of Natural Resources Jim Carr. The meetings were respectful, but didn’t provide much comfort on what a final decision on the Kinder Morgan project might be, said Campbell.

Referring to decisions looming on the Kinder Morgan and Enbridge pipelines in B.C. and the Energy East pipeline on the East Coast, Campbell said, “The sentiment in Ottawa is that one of these (pipeline) projects must go, and not everyone is going to be happy.”

Campbell said he welcomes Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s commitment to redefine Canada’s relationship with First Nations, but added, “Now what does that look like? What are the tangible results? This particular project certainly represents an ability to redefine those relationships.”

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