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2 Jan 2020

Geoffrey Morgan, Financial Post

B.C.’s Supreme court rules for $6.6-billion Coastal GasLink pipeline, against Indigenous law

The Supreme Court of British Columbia has ruled that Indigenous law is not necessarily Canadian law in a decision that will enable more construction work on the $6.6-billion Coastal GasLink pipeline despite some First Nations opposition... B.C. Supreme Court Justice Marguerite Church ruled Tuesday that Coastal GasLink has suffered irreparable harm after protestors built blockades and camps to stop work crews from accessing parts of the natural gas pipeline route. Church granted both an interlocutory injunction and an enforcement order, which will “provide a mandate to the RCMP to enforce the terms of the order.”

... In this case, Coastal GasLink has signed agreements with elected First Nations groups along the pipeline route, but a group of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have said they oppose the project and tried to use First Nations law to prevent the company from building the pipeline... “There has been no process by which Wet’suwet’en customary laws have been recognized in this manner,” the judge wrote. “While Wet’suwet’en customary laws clearly exist on their own independent footing, they are not recognized as being an effectual part of Canadian law.” However, the overlap between Canadian law and Indigenous law has not been completely settled and courts across the country have had different opinions on the topic, said Dwight Newman, a law professor at the University of Saskatchewan and the Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Rights and Constitutional Law... Coastal GasLink and some of the opposed hereditary chiefs came to an agreement on a protocol for accessing the area in April 2019, but some protestors have continued to impede work at the site.