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Canada's top court won't hear appeal in attempt to stop Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion

Last Updated Mar 5, 2020 at 8:48 am PST

FILE -- Pipe for the Trans Mountain pipeline is unloaded in Edson, Alta., Tuesday, June 18, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Supreme Court of Canada is further paving the way for the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion to go ahead

Canada's top court is refusing to hear an appeal from some B.C. First Nations and environmental groups

The controversial pipeline expansion project received a second approval last year

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The Supreme Court of Canada has refused to hear appeals from several B.C. groups opposing the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion.

First Nation and environmental groups questioned an earlier court decision that said more consultations on the controversial project weren’t necessary.

The Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations were among those hoping the court would overturn the decision, and have said to expect an increase in civil disobedience if the project goes through.

Some groups who were among those hoping to have their say in court believe the decision represents a failure to future generations.

“I feel kind of like I’m failing the future generations by not being able to stop this pipeline,” Rebecca Wolfe Gage with Youth Stop TMX said Thursday. “I wish we could have done more.”

The Trans Mountain expansion project will see a second, bigger pipeline built roughly parallel to the existing line between Burnaby and Edmonton.

‘Really unfortunate’

Some had wanted the Supreme Court to consider whether Canada’s Liberal cabinet violated the Species at Risk Act when it decided to approve the pipeline expansion for a second time in June 2019.

“Our main concern was with the treatment of the endangered species, the Southern Resident Killer Whale,” Karen Wristen, executive director of the Living Oceans Society, said. “We wanted the Supreme Court to rule on how the Species at Risk Act works together with the environmental assessment process.

“It’s really unfortunate,” Wristen added. “The Supreme Court has never considered how the Species at Risk Act is supposed to work with environmental assessments to protect species that are at risk. So we regret the loss of the opportunity to both reconcile the law and do something positive for the Resident Killer Whale.”

She argued the Supreme Court “is not transparent” when it comes to its reasons to hear one case or another, and believes the dismissal doesn’t send a broader message about the project itself.

As usual, the Supreme Court did not provide any reasons for its decision.

Meanwhile, others opposing the project have claimed there wasn’t enough consultation with Indigenous peoples.

Canada’s top court’s decision comes almost exactly a month after the Federal Court of Appeal upheld the government’s second approval of the expansion project. In that case, First Nations groups had argued in December that the government went into consultations with Indigenous communities a year prior having predetermined the outcome in favour of the expansion.

-With files from Bethlehem Mariam and The Canadian Press