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Ontario First Nations group backs Line 5 shutdown, slams Ottawa for fighting back

Last Updated May 6, 2021 at 9:17 am PDT

WASHINGTON — A prominent First Nations group in Ontario is accusing the federal government of putting the oil and gas industry ahead of protecting the Great Lakes. 

The Anishinabek Nation says it is disappointed that Ottawa opposes the shutdown of Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline in Michigan. 

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says the cross-border pipeline, which has been in operation since 1953, is a threat to the Great Lakes and wants it shut down by Wednesday. 

The two sides are engaged in court-ordered negotiations and scheduled to meet for a third time on May 18 — six days after Whitmer’s deadline. 

Grand Council Chief Glen Hare says Ottawa is ignoring the numerous treaties Canada has signed with the 39 First Nations his group represents. 

Proponents say the pipeline, which crosses the ecologically sensitive Straits of Mackinac, is a vital source of energy and jobs for Michigan and Ohio, as well as Ontario and Quebec. 

“It is upsetting to see that the government of Canada will pick and choose which treaties to uphold based on convenience and profit,” Hare said in a statement. 

“Should anything that’s being transported in these 67-year-old pipelines get into the Great Lakes, it would have devastating effects and irreparable consequences.”

Federal officials and Enbridge executives point to the pipeline’s unblemished record, and say a $500-million plan to build a tunnel for it beneath the straits would make it even safer. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 6, 2021. 

The Canadian Press