VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - Jan. 17, 2014) - The Federal Joint Review Panel's report on the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines Project made an error in law and reached a flawed conclusion according to a lawsuit filed today with the Federal Court of Appeal.
The suit was filed by lawyers for the Gitxaala Nation who say the Joint Review Panel did not properly consider aboriginal rights and title and did not properly weigh the public interest.
"Gitxaala were given the opportunity to speak, but were not heard," says Rosanne Kyle, the lawyer for the Gitxaala Nation.
The band devoted significant resources to participate in the hearings, submitting more than 7,500 pages of documentary evidence, providing nine expert witnesses and producing a 320 page submission which outlined the adverse economic and cultural effects from as many as 230 supertankers a year passing through the band's traditional territory. Concerns raised by the Gitxaala were dismissed or essentially ignored by the Joint Review Panel in its Report. Massive oil tankers moving through Gitxaala territory violates Aboriginal title and rights and will not be uncontested. For centuries, Gitxaala have harvested in their territory. Tankers in the narrow channels will be disruptive and an oil spill would be catastrophic, potentially destroying Gitxaala's entire culture and way of life.
The suit points out that the Joint Review Panel Report had a mandate to consider the Gitxaala's constitutionally protected rights in a meaningful way, but that mandate was ignored.
"The Gitxaala played by the rules," says Clarence Innis, Acting Chief of the Gitxaala Nation. "The JRP had a responsibility to take our concerns seriously but it didn't."
Ms. Kyle added that a series of recent government reports support the Gitxaala's concerns but were released too late to be considered in the Joint Review Panel Report.