Statement: BC Supreme Court ruling about proper consultation

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Jennifer Rice, MLA for North Coast made the following statement regarding the BC Supreme Court ruling about proper consultation:

“Yesterday’s announcement is a big win for First Nations and communities in the north and central coast and Haida Gwaii. The BC Supreme Court determined that the Province cannot rely on the National Energy Board for environmental approval. In June 2010, the B.C. Liberals signed an “equivalency agreement” with Ottawa, which effectively gave the Federal National Energy Board final say over the environmental assessment process of the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project. The recent court ruling means the Province must now make its own environmental assessment decision regarding the Northern Gateway pipeline, and that it must consult with and accommodate First Nations about potential impacts to their aboriginal rights and title. “This Supreme Court decision reaffirms what courts continue to say: governments have a legal duty to consult and accommodate First Nations whose rights are impacted by resource projects.

“It astounds me that Christy Clark so readily handed over decision-making authority for the largest private sector industrial proposal the province of BC has ever seen. At the time, I thought it was reckless and disrespectful, not only to BC First Nations, but all British Columbians. I am glad that the courts have also agreed.

“In the short term, the decision hugely hampers Enbridge’s plans to bring oil supertankers through the waters off the north and central coast and Haida Gwaii. More broadly speaking it should be a wakeup call for all governments that we are in a new era when it comes to consulting and truly respecting First Nations – and that, I think, is a good thing”