VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – As the Court of Appeal releases a decision, an environmental activist says new challenges to the Trans Mountain expansion should be heard in court.
Rita Wong is passionately against the pipeline expansion. Her protest at the entrance of the company’s Westridge Marine Terminal entrance last summer led to a jail sentence.
A professor at Emily Carr University, Wong was arrested after protesting on Burnaby Mountain and sentenced to 28 days in jail for violating a court injunction that bars protesters from getting close to the terminal.
She believes arguments against the project should be allowed to go before the courts.
“There’s a lot of people who don’t have a lot of faith in the legal system to be fair and to address the needs of the environment,” she says. “I think a decision that rejects the appeals would just erode people’s confidence in the system.”
Last year the Federal Court of Appeal tore up the original approval, citing both an insufficient environment review and inadequate consultations with Indigenous communities. The Liberals say they fixed both problems and approved the expansion a second time in June.
On Sept. 4, the FCA approved six of the 12 legal challenges to the expansion. The challenges are set to proceed on an expedited basis.
Environment groups still say there are not adequate protections for endangered marine species that will be affected by tanker traffic picking up oil from a terminal in suburban Vancouver.
“And if an appeal goes forward, there’s still a long battle,” Wong says. “The system is very much – as far as I can tell – biased against land and water protection and overly heavily weighted in terms of corporate profit.”
With files from Lauren Boothby, Monika Gul and the Canadian Press.