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Aboriginal communities could argue “unreasonable” consultation with Gateway

Author: 
Compiled by Shari Narine
Volume: 
19
Issue: 
5
Year: 
2012

If the decision is made to go-ahead with the Northern Gateway Pipeline project, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency is warning that the courts could overturn the decision because of “unreasonable” consultation with Aboriginal communities. “Lack of funding may limit the ability of Aboriginal groups to reasonably and meaningfully participate in the consultation and environmental assessment process,” said the agency in a presentation released by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans through access to information legislation. “If Aboriginal groups cannot consult meaningfully due to a lack of resources and capacities, and if the Crown fails to provide adequate funding, [there is a] moderate to high risk that the courts would find the consultation process to be unreasonable.” Funding received by 38 Aboriginal recipients was “at significantly reduced funding levels to fit within the available budget,” said the agency. Dozens of First Nations communities have signed a declaration to ban the Enbridge project and other proposed pipelines from crossing their land in order to protect the Fraser River watershed.

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