B.C. Supreme Court rejects Wet’suwet’en bid to toss LNG pipeline certificate

B.C. Supreme Court rejects Wet’suwet’en bid to toss LNG pipeline certificate

VANCOUVER — The British Columbia Supreme Court has rejected a bid to quash the extension of the environmental assessment certificate for the natural gas pipeline at the centre of countrywide protests in February last year.

The Office of the Wet’suwet’en, a society governed by several hereditary chiefs, asked the court to send the certificate for the Coastal GasLink pipeline back to B.C.’s Environmental Assessment Office for further review.

Their lawyers argued in part that the office did not meaningfully address the findings of the 2019 report from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls when it approved the extension.

They said Coastal GasLink’s plan to mitigate potential socio-economic effects of the pipeline project did not address harms identified by the inquiry, which heard evidence linking the influx of temporary labourers for such projects with escalating gender-based violence.

Justice Barbara Norell disagreed, saying it’s clear from an evaluation report that the assessment office did consider the national inquiry’s report, and requested the company consider how such harms would be addressed.

She says in a decision released last week the assessment office also asked Coastal GasLink to consider how Indigenous nations would be engaged in identifying and monitoring potential social impacts of the pipeline project.

“These comments do not indicate a failure or refusal of the (assessment office) to consider the inquiry report, but the opposite,” she says.

Opposition last year by Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs over the pipeline being built in their territory in northwestern B.C. set off Canada-wide rail blockades by their supporters that stalled parts of the country’s economy.

The chiefs’ lawyers argued Coastal GasLink’s zero-tolerance policies for harassment and the possession of firearms, drugs and alcohol are focused on work camps, while the harms outlined by inquiry were not so limited.

Norell found the chiefs’ argument “leads to the conclusion that nothing short of a gender-based impact assessment conducted by the (Environmental Assessment Office) … would be reasonable.”

But to establish that a decision was unreasonable, the petitioner must do more than allege a better analysis could have been undertaken, Norell says.

“I want to emphasize that this decision should not be taken as in any way diminishing the importance of the inquiry report,” Norell adds.

The executive director of B.C.’s Environmental Assessment Office granted Coastal GasLink an extension in October 2019, nearly five years after a certificate was first issued for the 670-kilometre natural gas pipeline.

Lawyers for the Office of the Wet’suwet’en argued the office’s records of the decision to extend the certificate also failed to address what they claimed was a track record of non-compliance by the company.

Norell disagreed, saying the office’s evaluation report addressed both the frequency and nature of instances of non-compliance, and the company had either rectified or was in the process of rectifying those issues.

Hereditary chiefs with the Office of the Wet’suwet’en have opposed Coastal GasLink’s project, while five elected Wet’suwet’en band councils signed agreements approving construction that’s currently underway.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 28, 2021.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

Brenna Owen, The Canadian Press

LNG Technology

Just Posted

Mayor Rick Bonnett. (Screenshot)
WATCH: Ponoka council calls on gov’t to support rural small businesses

Ponoka council is calling on the provincial government to increase funding to… Continue reading

Pumpjacks draw oil out of the ground near Olds, Alta., Thursday, July 16, 2020. A new report suggests the economic impact of the pandemic led to a massive increase in federal aid to Canada's oil patch. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Alberta economy ‘still reeling,’ says ATB Financial

Alberta’s economy is still feeling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and… Continue reading

Ella Stoner, five, is ready to cut off her hair and donate it to A Child’s Voice Foundation. (Photo by Lauren Stoner Photography)
Central Alberta girl to donate her ‘princess hair’ to A Child’s Voice Foundation

A five-year-old girl from Rimbey has never had a haircut before. Now,… Continue reading

Asymptomatic testing will now be available for "priority groups" who are most likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable or at-risk populations. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS
Alberta adds 1,195 new COVID-19 cases Saturday

Red Deer has dropped to 760 active cases

The Minnesota Wild celebrate their overtime victory over the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of a first-round NHL hockey playoff series Sunday, May 16, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)
Eriksson Ek’s OT goal lifts Wild past Vegas 1-0

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Joel Eriksson Ek’s goal at 3:20 of overtime… Continue reading

Toronto Blue Jays' Lourdes Gurriel Jr., celebrates after hitting a double against the Philadelphia Phillies during the third inning of a baseball game Sunday, May 16, 2021, in Dunedin, Fla. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)
Girardi, Segura have confrontation as Phils lose to Jays

Blue Jays 10 Phillies 8 DUNEDIN, Fla. (AP) — The injury-depleted Philadelphia… Continue reading

New York Islanders' Kyle Palmieri (21) returns to the bench after scoring during the first period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup first-round playoff series against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Pittsburgh, Sunday, May 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Palmieri’s OT winner lifts Isles by Penguins 4-3 in Game 1

PITTSBURGH (AP) — The New York Islanders brought Kyle Palmieri home at… Continue reading

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions hearing to examine an update from Federal officials on efforts to combat COVID-19, Tuesday, May 11, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool via AP)
Fauci says pandemic exposed ‘undeniable effects of racism’

ATLANTA (AP) — The immunologist who leads the COVID-19 response in the… Continue reading

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, participates in a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Feds face growing calls for answers after general overseeing vaccine effort sidelined

OTTAWA — The federal Liberal government is facing growing calls for answers… Continue reading

Conservative MP Ron Liepert rises during Question Period on Parliament Hill, Friday, March 10, 2017 in Ottawa. Ron Liepert says these days, the phone calls and emails from people wanting to talk about his party's climate plan have slowed. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Alberta MP pitches Conservative carbon price with a 24-pack of Pilsner

OTTAWA — Ron Liepert says these days, the phone calls and emails… Continue reading

A sign marks Stairs Place in the Hydrostone district in the North end of Halifax on Thursday, May 13, 2021. The street was named for William Grant Stairs, a Canadian explorer from Halifax who helped lead some of the most controversial expeditions through the African continent. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Where the streets have explorers’ names, some Halifax residents call for change

HALIFAX — When builders created Halifax’s distinctive Hydrostone neighbourhood more than a… Continue reading

Riley Oldford, 16, suffers from cerebral palsy. He was the first youth in the Northwest Territories to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Here he receives the needle from nurse practitioner Janie Neudorf in Yellowknife on Thursday May 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Bill Braden
People with disabilities even more alone during pandemic: cerebral palsy spokeswoman

YELLOWKNIFE — Riley Oldford is usually out playing sledge hockey or hanging… Continue reading

Most Read