First Nations groups have vowed to fight the Canadian government’s approval of a planned pipeline with lawsuits and direct action. They say Tuesday’s decision violates their constitutional rights because the government failed to consult tribal bands, the basic units of government for First Nations in Canada.
“The government has moved their legal responsibility to consult with First Nations to Enbridge, and that’s a wrong move on their part,” said Grand Chief Edward John of the Tl’azt’en Nation. Enbridge is the Canadian energy company behind the planned Northern Gateway pipeline.
The Canadian government has a legal duty, according to the constitution, to consult with the First Nations and to accommodate aboriginal treaties in decisions that may impact First Nations lands and resources.
Enbridge’s Northern Gateway — a 730-mile, $7 billion pipeline — would carry tar sands oil from the province of Alberta to the coastal town of Kitimat, British Columbia, where the oil will be loaded onto tankers and transported along the coastlines.