The Supreme Court of Canada has refused to hear an appeal of a Federal Court ruling that allowed the Trans-Mountain Pipeline expansion project in northern B.C.to proceed.
On Thursday, the court dismissed the appeal which came from the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, Squamish Nation, Coldwater Indian Band and the Ts'elxweyeqw Tribes.
While the applicants and their supporters issued press releases expressing deep disappointment, Trans Mountain Corp.
Squamish Nation spokesperson and Coun.
Kenney said the Supreme Court's dismissal reaffirmed the Federal Court of Appeal's most recent decision, in which it pointed out that of 129 Indigenous groups invited to participate in the consultation process, more than 120 either supported the project or did not oppose it.
The Trudeau government has approved the oil pipeline project twice, first in November 2016, and then again in June 2019, after the Federal Court of Appeal had quashed its first approval. She and other community leaders said there remain some legal options open to them but declined to say what they are.
Coldwater Chief Lee Spahan said the decision was disappointing, but not surprising.
He acknowledged there are people who will be disappointed with dismissal and said the government will continue to engage with them about the project "in the spirit of partnership, to make sure we get this right".
In 2018, the company's shareholders got cold feet about proceeding with the multibillion-dollar expansion, anxious that legal challenges from Indigenous communities, environment groups and the B.C. government would delay construction too long.
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As is customary, the court did not give reasons for its decision. The final report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls identified the connection between work camps and assaults on Indigenous women.
"The Government of Canada is committed to a renewed relationship with Indigenous peoples and understands that consultations on major projects have a critical role to play in building that renewed relationship".
A federal Crown corporation and its subsidiaries have been operating the existing pipeline, and proceeding with construction of the expansion project, which would roughly triple its capacity up to 890,000 barrels a day flowing from near Edmonton to a terminal in metro Vancouver.
The federal government has owned the pipeline since 2018 when it bought it from Kinder Morgan.
In February, it was ruled by the Federal Court of Appeal that the approval would stand.
But First Nations still have concerns about the project.
"If unchallenged, it could change the way consultation and consultation cases happen in Canada, making it less meaningful for protecting our inherent constitutionally protected Aboriginal rights, " George-Wilson said.
The respondents in the case were the Canadian attorney general, Trans Mountain Pipeline ULC and Trans Mountain Corp.
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