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

Red Deer RCMP remind drivers to not leave vehicles running and unattended

It takes seconds for a thief to drive away in a vehicle left unlocked and running

Red Deer Hospice Society celebrates expansion fundraising milestone

The $1,000,000 mark has been reached in the $5.2 million campaign

Red Deer prepares for Alberta Country Music Awards

The final round of voting to select award winners ends Dec. 28th

Reducing crime is a top priority in Red Deer’s 2019 operating budget

City council will debate operating budget from Jan. 8th to 18th

Kira Isabella set to perform at Bo’s on Jan. 29th

Isabella has signed on with Aaron Pritchett’s ‘Out on the Town’ tour

Cannabis gift ideas for this holiday season

Put the green in happy holidays, now that cannabis is legal in Canada

‘People talk about deep sadness:’ Scientists study climate change grief

Some call it environmental grief, some call it solastalgia — a word coined for a feeling of homesickness when home changes around you.

As protectors abandon Trump, investigation draws closer

Cohen was sentenced Wednesday to three years in prison for an array of crimes.

Senate delays start of sittings in new home, delaying start of broadcasts

The Senate and House of Commons are moving into temporary homes for the next decade as a result of long-planned and badly needed renovations to the Centre Block.

UK leader seeks EU lifeline after surviving confidence vote

EU leaders gather for a two-day summit, beginning Thursday, which will center on the Brexit negotiations.

French police try to catch attack suspect dead or alive

Local authorities increase death toll to three, including 13 wounded and five in serious condition

Second Canadian missing in China after questioning by authorities

Michael Spavor, founder of a non-profit that organizes cultural-exchange trips to North Korea, “is presently missing in China”

UK Prime Minister Theresa May wins party no-confidence vote, but troubles remain

May won the vote of 317 Conservative legislators with a 200-117 tally

Firm says trees obstructing vision at Humboldt Broncos crash intersection

Sixteen people died and 13 others were injured in the collision at an intersection north of Tisdale

Most Read