A group of First Nations plans to launch a slew of legal challenges against the federal government over its approval of the Petrona’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) project near Prince Rupert, BC.
VICE: By Hilary Beaumont September 29, 2016
Calling Justin Trudeau “an outright liar,” Donnie Wesley, the highest ranking hereditary chief of Gitwilgyoots tribe, which has jurisdiction over Lelu Island where the LNG terminal would be built, said the project’s approval on Tuesdaywas “a slap in the face.”
Wesley told VICE News the federal decision “totally ignored” peer-reviewed, independent science submitted to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency that showed the project would seriously harm the salmon in the Skeena River, the second-largest salmon bearing river in BC, and a significant body of water for First Nations along the river.
“We don’t have a tentative date, but it will be within the 30-day [appeal] period,” Wesley said of his tribe’s legal action. “We’re going to be meeting next week to plan our strategies [and] where we’re going to go with this.”
Wesley’s tribe, along with other First Nation groups and west coast non-profit SkeenaWild, have met with lawyers and are fundraising to apply for judicial review of the decision.
A GoFundMe campaign launched yesterday in support of their legal challenge has raised $3,000 in 19 hours—but Greg Knox, executive director of SkeenaWild, says his group has already raised about $50,000 toward its legal fund, with more fundraising events planned.
“Aboriginal groups and SkeenaWild have been preparing to launch a series of legal actions, and are prepared to go all the way,” the fundraiser states.
“The Skeena Corridor Nations, a powerful group of hereditary leaders from Gitanyow, Lax Kw’alaams, Wet’suwet’en, Gitxsan, Takla, Lake Babine and Haida, are exploring all political and legal options for protecting the Skeena for the long-term.”
“We’ve been preparing for the last year,” Knox said. “Our lawyers are currently preparing to file for judicial reviews.”
There will be multiple legal actions, he said, ranging from First Nations appeals over lack of consultation to judicial reviews of the CEAA report that found the project “is likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects.” The government concluded those adverse effects “are justified in the circumstances,” and applied 190 conditions to allow the project to go forward.