A aerial view of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain marine terminal, in Burnaby, B.C., is shown on Tuesday, May 29, 2018. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)

Ottawa looks at having retired judge help guide renewed pipeline review process

The feds would only says that ‘multiple options were on the table’

The federal government is shopping around for a retired federal judge to help guide a renewed consultation with Indigenous communities on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

The Federal Court of Appeal last month quashed the approval given to the project, saying the consultation with Indigenous communities wasn’t good enough and criticizing the lack of attention paid to the environmental impact of increased tanker traffic off the coast of British Columbia.

The Liberals are still considering whether to appeal the decision, but at the same time are looking at how they can do what the court said was lacking in order to get the pipeline work back underway.

READ MORE: B.C. ‘very disappointed’ by court decision to not hear Trans Mountain appeal

An official close to the plan said one option being closely considered is hiring of a former senior judge, possibly a retired Supreme Court of Canada justice, to advise the government on what would constitute meaningful consultation with Indigenous communities to satisfy the conditions of the court.

The Liberals intend to announce the next steps in their pipeline plan before the end of September.

The government wants to have the pipeline’s fate decided within the next six to eight months so it is no longer an issue for the opposition parties to use against the Liberals in next year’s federal election, or potential fodder for the Alberta Tories against Premier Rachel Notley’s NDP government in May’s provincial election.

An official in Natural Resource Minister Amarjeet Sohi’s office would only say that multiple options were on the table.

READ MORE: B.C. cities push for spill response base despite Trans Mountain decision

READ MORE: Indigenous groups still want to buy stake in Trans Mountain after court setback

Martin Olszynski, a professor in environmental and natural resource law at the University of Calgary, said talk of hiring a Supreme Court judge is usually intended to send a signal that a government is “taking its task seriously.”

“It will be interesting to see what role such a judge will have — whether it will be strictly advisory, or whether they may play a role in mediating the consultations themselves,” he said.

The pipeline project is at a standstill while the government figures out how, or if, it can redo Indigenous and environmental consultations to satisfy the courts.

Canada spent $4.5 billion in August to buy the existing Trans Mountain pipeline and associated assets from Kinder Morgan Canada after political opposition in British Columbia spooked investors enough that the company walked away from the project.

Conservative MP Lisa Raitt demanded in question period that the government explain how it was going to get the project completed, noting that Finance Minister Bill Morneau said the whole point of buying the pipeline was to ensure the expansion got built.

Morneau seemed to confirm the government’s plan is to go back and talk to Indigenous communities another time, as well as do the additional environmental reviews the court wanted.

“We must create international access for our resources and that’s exactly what we’re going to do promptly by listening and having meaningful consultation with Indigenous Canadians and considering environmental impacts that are so important,” Morneau said in the House of Commons.

The Trans Mountain pipeline has carried both raw and refined oil products from Edmonton to a marine terminal in British Columbia for several decades. The expansion plan is to build a second pipeline, roughly parallel to the first, to triple the capacity and carry diluted bitumen from Canada’s oil sands to oil tankers and eventually Asian markets that are currently not Canadian customers.

The pipeline was partly reviewed during the tenure of the previous Conservative government, but after another pipeline was rejected by the courts because of a lack of proper Indigenous consultation, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged to learn from that mistake with this one. In 2016, the government added another round of consultations with Indigenous communities.

The government was extremely confident it had done what the court desired, but in late August found out that was not the case when the Federal Court of Appeal tore up the federal approval certificate.

The court decision is, in many ways, a blueprint for what Canada still needs to do.

“The concerns of the Indigenous applicants, communicated to Canada, are specific and focused,” wrote Justice Eleanor Dawson in the 266-page decision.

“This means that the dialogue Canada must engage in can also be specific and focused.”

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Incumbents and acclaimed mayors win elections all across B.C.’s north

Fraser Lake saw their first female mayor elected

Mayoral results from across B.C.

Voters in 162 municipalities in B.C. set to elect mayor, council, school board and more

Every vote counts: 10 tightest races in B.C.’s municipal elections

Peachland saw their election decided by just one vote

Northwestern BC Hydro transmission line to be refurbished

Replacing poles between Kitimat and Terrace far cheaper than complete new line

‘She’s charging. Oh God’: Mama grizzly runs at B.C. man armed with shotgun

People online were quick to question – and defend – a man’s decision to shoot a grizzly bear charging him on a Bella Coola front yard

Canada announces $20M fund for women entrepreneurs

New federal program will provide up to $100,000 for female business owners to grow their operations

Vancouver Island man claims falling ice smashed his truck windshield

Man discovered volleyball-sized chunk ice on his truck Saturday, near Nanaimo, B.C.

B.C. vegan butcher to appear on Dragons’ Den

Victoria’s Very Good Butchers will star in Nov. 29 episode

Fast ferries from B.C. spotted in Egypt

Controversial aluminum BC Ferries vessels ’big white elephants covered in dust,’ eyewitness says

Canadian troops, families take shelter in hotel after Florida hurricane

Most of the Canadians were evacuated from the military base before Hurricane Michael

B.C. jury trial hears police-sting audio of man accused of killing girl, 12

Garry Handlen has pleaded not guilty to the first-degree murder of Monica Jack on May 6, 1978.

5 tips to keep trick-or-treaters safe this Halloween

BC Children’s Hospital has a few suggestions to keep Oct. 31 fun

B.C. man gets seven years in prison for baseball-bat attack on Kamloops teen

Kamloops man who beat Jessie Simpson into a coma has pleaded guilty to aggravated assault. He was originally charged with attempted murder and assault with a weapon.

Most Read