Tsleil-Waututh Nation looks to take Trans Mountain fight to Supreme Court

North Vancouver’s Tsleil-Waututh Nation is hoping to take their legal battle against the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion to the Supreme Court of Canada.

The nation announced Tuesday that they would seek leave to appeal an earlier ruling by the Federal Court of Appeal which they say made a legal error by excluding grounds that were not about Indigenous consultation from their ongoing efforts to have federal government’s second approval of the pipeline overturned.

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The Supreme Court only hears a small percentage of the appeals referred to it but the case could have broad implications for the relationship between government and the courts, well beyond First Nations fighting Aboriginal rights cases, the nation argues.

“We are taking this issue to the Supreme Court of Canada not only to stand up for our inherent and constitutionally protected rights, but also to make sure that Canada follows their own laws when making decisions,” said Tsleil-Waututh Chief Leah Sisi-ya-ama George-Wilson, in a release.

At issue in the Tsleil-Waututh’s case are the government’s failure to consider marine shipping throughout Canada’s Exclusive Economic Zone in the environmental assessment and final decision and alleged failure to comply with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and Species at Risk Act in relation to the southern resident killer whales.

They also target the government’s reliance on “stale economic evidence and ignoring fresh evidence that the project is uneconomic,” according to the band.

“We are confident in our case at the (Federal Court of Appeal). The federal government failed to meaningfully consult Tsleil-Waututh again by aiming for the legal minimum and missing the mark. This appeal is about making sure that the government follows their own constitution and statutes when making decisions that impact us all,” George-Wilson said.

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