Lead Indigenous group seeking TMX ownership “still bullish” despite second judicial review of $7.5 billion pipeline expansion
The man heading up the lead indigenous consortium angling for ownership of the Trans Mountain expansion remains confident in the embattled project, despite Wednesday’s Federal Court of Appeal decision in favour of six First Nations who oppose the pipeline’s twinning.
“I’m still very bullish about this going ahead,” said Joe Dion, CEO of the Western Indigenous Pipeline Group, which represents First Nations support he’s shored up along the existing pipeline’s 1150 kilometre right-of-way, from Edmonton to Vancouver.
“The fact (the court) only took the First Nations’ appeal requests and not the environmentalists means they’re listening to First Nations, not the environmentalists…without consent by the First Nations along the pipeline, (the federal government’s) going to have a rocky road.”
Federal appeals court Justice David Stratas’ decision this week grants a second judicial review of the project’s consultation process to six indigenous applicants who say the federal government failed in its “duty to consult” over the $7.5 billion expansion.
Little more than a year ago on August 30, 2018, the federal court quashed the National Energy Board’s original approval to twin the existing bitumen pipeline. That same day, 99 percent of shareholders for Kinder Morgan voted to sell its Trans Mountain interests to Canada.
Three months before that setback, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the government would nationalize the project; the cost: $4.5 billion.
A year later, in June of 2019, Trudeau announced cabinet approval for the pipeline expansion to proceed, the project’s second kick at the can, and put no limit on indigenous ownership.
Though the prime minister expressed confidence in his government’s consultation undertaking with affected First Nations, Wednesday’s Federal Court of Appeal decision would suggest otherwise.
In granting six indigenous litigants a judicial review of this second, federally led round of pipeline consultations, Justice Stratas shut out anti-TMX environmental groups and the City of Vancouver who were consolidated with First Nations under the original Raincoast Conservation Foundation versus Canada filing.
In his decision, Justice Stratas also noted lawyers for the federal government failed to show up and make Ottawa’s case that a judicial review was unnecessary; only lawyers for the Alberta government bothered to present opposing arguments.
The Court’s standing practice is not to issue reasons in disposing of leave applications. However this is an exceptional case as the respondents, who have a direct interest in the project, took no position for or against the leave applications in all cases but one, thereby leaving the matter to the discretion of the Court. Taking no position on a motion is a common practice when dealing with procedural matters; it is not when issues of general importance are in play.
This federal government no-show put Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi in the hot seat in the wake of the ruling and on CBC’s Power and Politics Sohi was grilled about Ottawa’s decision to stand down in this preliminary hearing.
“We want courts to decide who should have the right to appeal, who should not have the right to appeal at all,” Sohi told the public broadcaster. “That’s a decision that federal court of appeal needed to make and they have made that decision and we respect that.”
In a statement to The Post Millennial, Sohi reiterated that sentiment and appeared buoyed by Justice Stratas’ decision.
“There are six fewer challenges to the project today than there were before yesterday’s decision,” writes Alexandre Deslongchamps, the minister’s director of communications.
“The scope of the appeal is narrowed and reduced to a single question: whether the Crown has fulfilled its duty to consult. We are confident that we have fulfilled this duty. We did the hard work necessary to respond to the August 30th Federal Court of Appeal decision.”
But longtime insider Bill Gallagher, a veteran regulatory lawyer who’s worked for the federal government and now consults for both industry and indigenous groups, told TPM he believes “the project is at risk.”
“(Trudeau)’s taking a hit today, because those native supporters that could make life easier for him are on the sidelines and he’s put them there,” said Gallagher.
“He’s sidelined his native supporters, he doesn’t go to court against his native opponents and now he’s got to duke it out for a third approval at the appellant level in the run-up to the election. It’s just a mishmash, bad strategy.”
“So the message is, if you’re a native group with an ownership plan, come and see us after the election,” he added.
Back in Calgary where Dion heads up the Western Indigenous Pipeline Group, which according to him has nearly 100 First Nations backers to take over the project from the feds, the businessman offered his view of this latest TMX setback.
“Obviously I would’ve liked the Trudeau government to recognize that they should’ve moved alongside us earlier,” he said.
“I guess, you might say they chose to ignore us, but they’re playing politics with the two other groups…but they still have no choice but to side with us eventually, so I’m not really worried about that.”
To date, three indigenous consortiums have made serious overtures for an ownership stake and include the Alberta Iron Coalition and Project Reconciliation, but Dion maintains that Ottawa is must deal first with the Western Indigenous Pipeline Group, as their members are directly affected.
“We were at (Finance Minister Bill) Morneau’s office the day after the announcement (the feds were going to buy TMX) telling them that we were ready to work with them to build this pipeline,” said Dion, whose group wants a 51 percent stake, ideally backed by an established resources or energy transmission player.
“We had a plan, we had a group, we had a name, we were targeting the key groups along the pipeline. That was our objective; to win over those who could stop it.”
Dion told TPM his group’s efforts to bring those indigenous groups challenging the project in court a second time, onside with the TMX expansion.
Dion also said that he’s been in talks with several potential industry partners, “so I think we’ll have one eventually, one that knows how to run a pipeline.”
Dion declined to name which companies he’s spoken to about backing his group’s TMX ambition.
Trudeau’s Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault said on Monday that he would introduce a bill that will follow the recommendations for the registration of internet news sites, according to Blacklock’s Reporter.
This comes despite Guilbeault backtracking earlier this year, saying that he would not license news outlets after a CTV interview where he said he would. Now, Guilbeault is trying to do the same thing, again.
Despite the controversy that Guilbeault created by these comments, he is now attempting again to register news sites.
This legislation comes after a report by a cabinet advisory panel, where they recommended that the Trudeau government should force news outlets, like The Post Millennial, to register with the government.
This panel believed news reporting that was “accurate, reliable and trusted news content is in peril.” In order to fix this, they belived that a government body, in this case the Radio Television and Telecommunications Commission, should monitor outlets.
Martin Shields, the Conservative Member of Parliment for Bow River, said that Guilbeault’s proposals “scare the hell out of me.”
While BC’s Lower Mainland continues to see protests and blockades around the area, some of the protestors are starting to become familiar faces as they are involved in a number of events and TV interviews.
Many of the people at the protests and blockades do not want to identify as protestors and are instead referring to themselves as “land defenders. Many of the protests seem to be organized by a small group of people.
Natalie Knight is one of the main faces behind many blockades and other events around Vancouver.
Knight has been in the spotlight a number of times and participated in many interviews with CBC and Global News. She was even arrested in 2016 for occupying a building that was to be demolished in BC.
She attended Simon Fraser University (SFU) in Burnaby BC where she received a PhD. Knight also credits paying off her $50,000 student debt in America from Canadian taxpayer funds she received for her studies at SFU, in an academic paper entitled, “Dispossessed Indigeneity:
Literary Excavations of Internalized Colonialism”.
In an interview with Global News, Knight said, “We are Indigenous people who have lived on this land for a very long time with uninvited settlers on our land.”
“It’s an economic disruption,” she said when referring to the port blockade.
“We recognize that the government tends to only understand the language of money, so disrupting capital and the flow of goods is a language that they will understand.”
Knight calls herself an organizer of solidarity actions for the Vancouver Wet’suwet’en, even though she is not from Canada.
She says she is of Yurok and Navajo ancestry and has roots in New Mexico and California. She came to Canada for school eight years ago and was not willing to talk about her immigration status.
“I don’t think I need to share my status with you,” said Knight.
Pete Davidson wants to take credit for propelling Republican congressman Dan Crenshaw to fame, and now he’s apologizing for thrusting him into the public limelight. Davidson claims that his mockery of the military veteran were “words that were twisted so that a guy could be famous.”
In a segment on Saturday Night Live in November 2018, Davidson flamed Lt. Cmdr. Crenshaw, a Navy SEAL veteran, for wearing an eye patch, referring to him as a “hitman from a porno.” “I’m sorry, I know he lost his eye in war or whatever,” he said. Despite the outrage on social media, Crenshaw took the jabs in stride and appeared alongside Davidson sometime later to entertain the audience of SNL.
The story should’ve ended there, but in his new Netflix special “Alive from New York,” Davidson says he regretted the apology. “I got in trouble last year because I was making some jokes,” he said. “I didn’t think I did anything wrong. It was like words that were twisted so that a guy could be famous … So I made fun of this guy with an eye patch and then, like, I kind of got forced to apologize.”
Davidson claims that he felt pressured to apologize to Crenshaw due to “death threats” aimed at him and his mother, whom he refers to as his “roommate.”
“People were like, ‘You hate America!’ And I’m like, ‘No, I just didn’t want to be incorrect about how he lost his f—ing eye,” Davidson said. “Is that a crime?!’ My roommate thought I should apologize so that I didn’t get shot in the face.”
Davidson claims in his special that he was unaware of the circumstances of Crenshaw’s eyepatch before he broadcast his remarks on live television and that the entire bit was “improvised” to be “mindful” of the veteran’s facial injury.
“The only thing I did do, which I am guilty of and I apologize for, is I did make that guy famous and a household name for no reason, right?” he said. Bitter, much?
Vandals have spray-painted several buildings in Winnipeg during Tuesday night. The Canadian Museum for Human Rights, the local RCMP Headquarters and Liberal MP Dan Vandal’s office. All of the messages were pointed towards the ongoing protests of the proposed Coastal GasLink pipeline.
Liberal MP Dan Vandal’s office had the phrases “Stolen land,” “Shut down KKKanada” and “land back” all written in graffiti .
The RCMP monument dedicated to mounties who’d died in the line of duty was also vandalized with the words “F–k RCMP”. The monument is located outside the RCMP “D” Division headquarters on Portage Avenue.
The monument was erected in 1998 and cost $100,000, of the money was raised through fundraising and by employee donations.
RCMP spokesperson, Sgt. Paul Manaigre described the general reaction of the officers as shocked after seeing the defaced monument. “Anger sets in afterwards,” he said.
“We understand … if you want to send a message. But I’m not sure why you would want to target a monument that honours those that gave their lives for the people in this province.”
“It’s upsetting,” he said.
All three acts of vandalism are being investigated as related incidents according to Winnipeg police spokesman Rob Carver. Winnipeg police will be taking on the case with the help of security footage provided by the RCMP. Carver has yet to name any suspects in the case, according to CBC.
The vandalism could potentially be a response to the 10 protestors arrested near Belleville, Ont. on Monday at a rail blockade.
“I do know the group Indigenous Youth and Allies for Wet’suwet’en only [acts] out of a place of peace and love for the land and land protectors,” wrote a member of the Winnipeg group that supports the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs.
The Canadian Museum for Human Rights had the question, “Is this the future you want?” graffitied on the wall in red paint.
“To be honest, my first instinct was a little of blood boils,” he said. “But our mandate is to cultivate reflection, and as we think about it, I think this is a reflection of a very important conversation that is going on in Canada,” said John Young, the museum’s chief executive officer.
“This is something that we need to wrestle with better as Canadians, the realities of colonization,” he said.
“I don’t condone graffiti, but I think … we need to recognize this is an effort to make expression.”
Graffiti painted on Liberal MP Vandal’s office read, “stolen land,” “U fail us” and “do better.” Vandal is the federal minister of Northern Affairs.
“It’s disappointing when that happens, because the way out of this issue is through dialogue — not vandalizing something or violence,” he said. Vandal is also the minister of Northern Affairs. “We need to talk to one another, and we need to set the right stage and the right table for that.”
President of the Manitoba Metis Federation, David Chartrand, said in a written statement that he was saddened by the graffiti although not surprised.
“I challenge the people who did this, to think how they would feel if someone broke into a graveyard at night and did this to a relative’s headstone or gravesite,” he wrote.
“People who commit violent acts and vandalize property will never represent nor receive support from the Métis Nation or other democratically elected Indigenous governments.”