Consultation or consent?

What is adequate consultation? When has consent been given?

You may have heard the news that the Federal Court of Appeal will soon hear six legal challenges to the approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline project. The challenges will once again focus on the “consultation” with Indigenous peoples directly impacted by this project.

Before taking power in 2015, Justin Trudeau promised his government would not only consult First Nations, but would obtain consent from communities before projects like this one could proceed.

There has never been clear consent for the Trans Mountain pipeline.

The Federal Court has already ruled once that public consultation for this 1,150 km pipeline expansion, which would take bitumen from the tar sands in Alberta to British Columbia for export, was inadequate, and it overturned the original approval for the project.

The federal government, now owner of the pipeline thanks to the use of more than $4.5 billion of public money (with another $9.3 billion expected to be spent on construction costs), started a second consultation process in June. But when the government announced it was approving the pipeline project again, Indigenous peoples argued that the outcome of that consultation was predetermined. They say the government, as owner of the pipeline, has a financial interest that overshadows the public interest.

We should all ask: what is adequate consultation? When has consent been given? Should consultation that simply gathers the feedback people provide be accepted, or does the government have a responsibility to act on when impacted Indigenous nations say no?

These legal appeals are examples of the lengths Indigenous peoples need to go to prove their rights are being trampled and how difficult it is to hold the government and corporations accountable to the law. On the flip side, land and water defenders are being unjustly jailed and fined for simply voicing their dissent. This is a double standard of law enforcement that is difficult to reconcile.

The court ordered the legal challenges be heard quickly and rulings are expected within months.

Thanks to the generous support of people like you, the Council of Canadians is working in solidarity with Indigenous peoples and concerned people and communities to stop this pipeline.


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The Canadian state seems like an immovable object. But Indigenous women are an unstoppable force.


Tiny House Warriors install solar panels. Photo via Tiny House Warriors’ Facebook page.

It’s Monday in the colonial state; Canada enters its 152nd year.

It’s been barely two weeks since the federal government released Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.The chief commissioner has said that the homicides, disappearances, and violence experienced by Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people are the result of a “persistent and deliberate pattern of systemic racial and gendered human and Indigenous-rights violations and abuses, perpetuated historically and maintained today by the Canadian state, designed to displace Indigenous people from their lands, social structures and governments, and to eradicate their existence as nations, communities, families and individuals.” She named it Canada’s genocide. And yet, amid an admission of genocide, the colonial project continues apace; its existence met with celebration for another year.

Survivors of violence and family members of missing and murdered Indigenous women have put together a deeply researched report with a tangible set of actions. Activists, media, and communities must now insist upon the implementation of the report’s 231 Calls for Justice – supporting survivors, family members, and Indigenous peoples in overcoming the disinterest and dismissal of the Canadian public.

And yet, amid an admission of genocide, the colonial project continues apace; its existence met with celebration for another year.

I have come to realize that ignorance and apathy amongst Canadians should be expected, but not tolerated. Settler colonialism relies on indifference, reinforced by myths that protect the settler state from critical examination. When critical examination is undertaken, like in Reclaiming Power and Place, the true nature of the state is revealed. Canada is a project with the deliberate aim of destroying Indigenous nations in order to assert control over Indigenous lands, waters, and peoples. Poor health outcomes, criminalization, and violence that exist in Indigenous communities are not the symptoms of peoples who have failed to modernize, nor can they be dismissed as the inevitable consequence of competing ways of life.

With this in mind, it becomes clearer why settler governments are willing to include Indigenous women in decision-making in some areas, but not others.

Federal, provincial, and territorial governments have been willing to cede control – financial responsibility and liability – over the design and delivery of services through legislation that does not include a statutory requirement for funding. These services, which include language restoration and child welfare, are crucial components to ending violence against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people. They address multi-generational issues that vary from family to family based on those families’ particular experiences and interactions with structural racism and settler colonialism. Overcoming these issues requires a multi-year effort, if not a lifelong commitment. These programs are costly to administer and critically important to the survival of Indigenous peoples. As a result, communities who assert their jurisdiction in these areas take on massive amounts of liability and financial burden, alleviating the Crown of that responsibility.

What you are not likely to see is policy-making that cedes decision-making and financial control to Indigenous women in areas where it would impact the accumulation of capital from Indigenous lands – like in the decision to twin the Trans Mountain pipeline. (I know you’re thinking about the few chiefs – mostly men – who, without clear community support, suggest their communities may want to share ownership and profit of the project. To that, I say: I said what I said.)

This includes the right to survival, to say no, and to determine for ourselves and our communities the best way to protect waters, lands, and children.

But having Indigenous women at the table is not enough. We have seen how damaging it can be when colonial oppression is internalized and perpetuated, through lateral violence and toxicity,by Indigenous women themselves. Each of us, including Indigenous people, must critically examine our own role in upholding a status quo that tolerates indifference to the basic human dignity of Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people. We must question what makes our society unwilling to hear the needs and aspirations of Indigenous women, unwilling to do the critical work required to empower us, and what barriers exist to our political mobilization.

Indigenous women have collective and individual rights that include “the right to participate in decision-making in matters which would affect their rights.” These rights are inherent, affirmed by human rights conventions and declarations like Article 18 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This includes the right to survival, to say no, and to determine for ourselves and our communities the best way to protect waters, lands, and children. When it comes to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, Kanahus Manuel, a leader with the Tiny House Warriorsand member of the Secwepemc Women Warriors has said, “We’re reclaiming our ancestral village and bringing our traditions back to life. If Trudeau wants to build this pipeline, he will need to empty this village a second time; in doing so, he would make continued colonization and cultural genocide part of his legacy of so-called reconciliation. Trudeau may have agreed to purchase this pipeline to make sure it gets built, but we’re here to make sure that it doesn’t. This pipeline is unfundable and unbuildable. It’s time Trudeau and all potential financial backers of this pipeline realized that we will never allow it to destroy our home.”  MORE

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Teens Fighting To Take Feds To Court Over Trans Mountain Pipeline

The teens’ arguement was obviously one the Trudeau Government didn’t want to answer because, really, there was no moral answer they could make.

They argue the pipeline’s contribution to the climate crisis violates their right to a secure future.

Pipe for the Trans Mountain pipeline is unloaded in Edson, Alta. on Tuesday June 18,
Pipe for the Trans Mountain pipeline is unloaded in Edson, Alta. on Tuesday June 18, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/JASON FRANSON

A group of Canadian teenagers is fighting for the chance to take the federal government to court over the approval and purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline, after its application to the Federal Court of Appeal was blocked by the Canadian government earlier this month.

In early July, 12 challenges were launched against the pipeline by various groups, including several First Nations and environmental organizations. They questioned the pipeline on various grounds, including Indigenous land rights and ecological harm to the southern resident orcas.

Olivier Adkin-Kaya, 18, Nina Tran, 18, Lena Andres, 17, and Rebecca Wolf Gage, 13 — who collectively call themselves Youth Stop TMX — filed a challenge arguing that the pipeline’s construction was in violation of their right to life, liberty and security of person as young Canadians through its contribution to the ongoing climate crisis.

The teens are from four different cities across the country and they argue that the pipeline’s construction and subsequent carbon emissions would contribute to ongoing climate change in Canada and continue to negatively impact their physical and mental well-being. Group members cited negative impacts like increased wildfire smoke due to rising global temperatures and growing anxiety over the climate crisis.

Of the 12 challenges, only the teens’ was blocked from moving forward in the judicial process. Adkin-Kaya says he doesn’t understand why only their challenge would be blocked.

“It’s beyond me why, of all the parties filing judicial review applications, Trans Mountain Corporation and the Government of Canada singled out of the youth, the party representing those who will be the first experience the more severe effects of the climate crisis,” he told HuffPost Canada. MORE

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Press Release: Canada seeks to block youth climate strikers from Trans Mountain Expansion pipeline challenge

No Pipelines in a Climate Emergency

This is a climate emergency. It’s time to act like it.

From June 9-18, people from coast-to-coast-to-coast are taking action to stop the Trans Mountain pipeline and tanker project. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Cabinet are expected to release their decision on whether they’ll approve the controversial project by June 18.

The Trans Mountain project could add 13 to 15 megatonnes of carbon emissions to the atmosphere, which would be like adding almost 3.8 million cars on the road. This will make it impossible for us to meet our climate targets, which are already far from the scale of emissions cuts that are needed.

At the same time, TC Energy (formerly TransCanada) continues to push its “Coastal GasLink” (CGL) fracked gas pipeline.

As the Unist’ot’en Camp writes, “On January 7, 2019, the world watched in shock and horror as the unarmed Indigenous Wet’suwet’en were illegally forced at gunpoint to concede a checkpoint at the entrance to their unceded territories… The international community responded with a massive show of support and solidarity for the Wet’suwet’en protecting their land, with nearly 100 simultaneous demonstrations”.

Council chapters, supporters, and allies took action. It’s time to do so again.

The Unist’ot’en Camp is counting on supporters to mobilize in a big way for the next step in their legal battle. They write that “On the week of June 10, the BC Supreme Court in Prince George will hear Coastal GasLink’s petition for an interlocutory injunction. If they are successful, the interim injunction will be made functionally permanent, allowing CGL to continue with pipeline construction on Unist’ot’en territory without the consent of hereditary chiefs.”

Take Action HERE

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BC’s Anti-Pipeline Law Is Unconstitutional

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The British Columbia director for a First Nations consortium planning to buy a majority stake in the Trans Mountain pipeline says the emergence of a rival Alberta Indigenous bidder raises concerns about weakening his group’s all-inclusive bid.

On Friday May 24th, the BC Court of Appeal held that BC’s proposed legislation blocking the Trans Mountain pipeline is unconstitutional. In a clear decision curtailing the provinces’ ability to interfere with federal undertakings, the Court reaffirmed that pipelines and railways cannot be subject to a patchwork of provincial laws. If upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada, the Court’s decision will provide considerable certainty for present and future federal projects.

The proposed legislation (the “Proposed Legislation“) prohibits anyone from possessing “heavy oil” in quantities greater than that possessed between 2013 and 2017, unless they obtain a discretionary permit from BC. The definition of “heavy oil” was such that it essentially only applied to synthetic crude oil that originated outside BC.

The Court held that the Proposed Legislation specifically targets federal undertakings (pipelines and railways) carrying oil across BC’s borders and, consequently, it is beyond BC’s jurisdiction. The federal government—not BC—has exclusive jurisdiction over federal undertakings, including interprovincial pipelines and railways.

The Court further held that unless an undertaking is contained entirely within a province, “federal jurisdiction is the only way in which it may be regulated.” The Court reasoned that if a patchwork of provincial and federal legislation applied, the operation of interprovincial undertakings would be stymied. New laws would apply each time a pipeline or railroad crossed a provincial border. For good reason, the constitution allocates jurisdiction over interprovincial undertakings exclusively to Parliament. MORE

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Frustrated by Pipeline Myths Albertans Tell Themselves? Here Are the Facts

This is a must read! We are bombarded daily by the oil industry’s misinformation, mindlessly repeated as gospel by Canadian media, and self-serving political spin. In the full article below, Andrew Nikiforuk, one of Canada’s best investigative journalists, systematically demolishes the myths that are peddled to Canadians and Albertans especially about Canada’s oil. 

A guide to educating relatives and friends who cling to oily falsehoods.

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Debunking claims, in the name of strong neighbourly relations.

Alberta’s major exports these days seem to be piles of misinformation, denial, blame, and propaganda on the state-owned Trans Mountain pipeline.

According to some of the more ridiculous claims, environmentalists are to blame for bitumen price discounts, Vancouverites are being punished for their orca-loving ways with high gasoline prices, and climate change really doesn’t matter.

Their politicians don’t dare admit the reality — that combined overproduction of bitumen and U.S. tight oil brought down the global price of oil with a thundering crash in 2014. In the world we inhabit now, oil business as usual has died.

Given that we all have and love our Alberta relatives and friends, here’s a brief guide on how to reply to some of the false claims being traded like crypto-currency among Alberta’s political columnists, Liberals, New Democrats and the United Conservatives. MORE

When it comes to environmental laws, oil companies shouldn’t make the rules


Photo by James Wheeler from Pexels

The good news: Canada is in the final stages of developing a new federal law that will modernize our environmental assessment laws. The bad news: this practical and relatively modest goal has been the subject of an extensive misinformation campaign by the oil and gas industry.

The latest step in the campaign to Kill the Bill is a tour by Canadian Senators that kicks off the second week of April, duplicating over two years of consultations and a 20-stop tour already undertaken for this legislation.

The oil & gas industry (CAPP) has been lobbying non-stop against environmental assessment bill C-69, at one point averaging a meeting per workday just on this legislation,” writes @CanadaGray

It’s probably not a surprise to anyone that Canada’s oil and gas industry does not want climate to be a major consideration when energy projects are reviewed. As a result, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) is demanding that the Senate include regressive amendments to Bill C-69. Although Bill C-69 — which will fulfill the government’s platform commitment to take steps to fix Canada’s broken impact assessment process — is not perfect, it is a major improvement in how we will assess the health and environmental impacts of major projects. For the first time, a project’s impact on Canada’s climate change goals will be an important consideration.

CAPP is essentially demanding that Canada stick its head in the sand. The world is up against a hard deadline and we need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, fast. In fact, the bill should go further than it currently does to consider the cumulative impact of projects on reaching our national climate targets. Of course, no individual project will single-handedly blow through our climate goals — but taken together, they can. If the federal review process doesn’t take into account industry’s overall impact on the climate, when exactly is that supposed to happen?

Federal impact reviews are supposed to be Canada’s opportunity to see both the forest and the trees. The point of this bill is not, as some have asserted, to find a new way to get pipelines approved. Rather it is to consider the complex impacts and tradeoffs that many types of industrial projects present for the lives of Canadians and our natural environment. Climate is the most urgent of these factors.

Think about it another way: the Trans Mountain pipeline has been in the ground for more than 60 years. Shouldn’t industrial projects that will still be impacting the landscape, the neighbourhoods and the atmosphere more than half a century from now be rigorously considered from all angles before shovels go in the ground?

Yet, it appears that there is no level of oversight or public accountability that CAPP and its members will view as acceptable. Under the current federal climate plan, emissions from oil and gas are actually expected to rise, even while transportation, buildings and other sectors will have to cut emissions drastically.  MORE

Bill McKibben likens climate change to Second World War

Environmentalist and author Bill McKibben calls climate change the most important issue facing the world today and likens the struggle against it to the Second World War.

McKibben told a packed house at the University of British Columbia’s Chan Centre for the Performing Arts that they should consider it an honour and a privilege to be part of the battle.

“Not very many people in any given moment of history get to say they are doing the most important thing they could be doing right now in the world,” said McKibben, who is the author of 12 books including 1989’s The End of Nature. He’s also the founder of 350.org, an organization that campaigns against new coal, oil and gas projects and supports building 100 per cent clean energy solutions. His newest book, Falter, will be released on April 16.

McKibben appeared with Canadian Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, who is also Member of Parliament for Saanich-Gulf-Islands.

May said if people get depressed about climate change, they should “shake it off and keep working. If the people who understand the problem start to despair, it’s just as bad as apathy,” May said.

McKibben encouraged everyone in the audience to get involved, specifically mentioning protests against the Trans Mountain pipeline as one way to change the world by keeping millions of barrels of oil in the ground.

“It has been so powerful and beautiful to watch people fight against the Trans Mountain pipeline coming across British Columbia,” McKibben said. “That pipeline, like everything else coming out of the tar sands is a global warming machine.” MORE

EXCLUSIVE: OTTAWA LEANS TOWARD CALIFORNIA ON FUEL ECONOMY RULES, WILL SEEK FEEDBACK ON FOSSIL SUBSIDIES


Catherine McKenna/Twitter

The federal government is leaning toward supporting tougher fuel economy standards against Trump administration rollbacks, and is about to announce incremental progress on curbing fossil fuel subsidies, The Energy Mix learned Thursday evening, during a town hall hosted by Environment and Climate Minister Catherine McKenna.

Ottawa is planning two releases next week, McKenna told the public session in her home riding of Ottawa Centre: a call for input on some of the detailed issues arising in the discussion of a subsidy phaseout, and a major science report on climate impacts in Canada.

The report will show that “we need to adapt right now,” she said, citing flooding as the biggest short-term climate risk the country faces. “City planners need to think about these things. What happens if we have more power outages because it’s so hot? What are the impacts on vulnerable populations? What is the impact of flooding? What are the impacts of Zika (virus)?” Canadians face a “huge number of impacts of climate change, and we need to be more resilient and build in a more resilient way.” MORE

Work on Trans Mountain pipeline crossing in B.C. destroyed salmon habitat, scientist says

A Trans Mountain pipeline crossing in Stewart Creek, in Chilliwack, B.C., on Dec. 12, 2018. MIKE PEARSON /THE CANADIAN PRESS

Work on a Trans Mountain pipeline crossing in a British Columbia stream has destroyed salmon habitat, raising concerns about the Crown corporation’s ability to build infrastructure through waterways if the expansion project proceeds, a scientist says.

Mike Pearson says the “amateur hour” work on the Stewart Creek crossing in Chilliwack will reduce food sources for coho and chum salmon and limit their ability to hide from predators. The fish are part of the diet of endangered southern resident killer whales.

“There was no consideration given whatsoever to the habitat, which is just not acceptable,” said Pearson, a biologist with 30 years’ experience, in an interview. MORE