NDP MP Rachel Blaney speaks during a meeting of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs on Friday. Screenshot from ParlVu

Island MP calls for study on duty to consult First Nations about pipeline

Special meeting called after Federal Court of Appeals halts pipeline expansion

A federal committee has defeated an Island MP’s motion that called for a study on the government’s duty to consult First Nations over plans to expand the Trans Mountain Pipeline.

The motion, put forward by NDP MP Rachel Blaney, followed a decision by the Federal Court of Appeal last week that put the brakes on the controversial project, ruling that consultations with Indigenous communities about the pipeline were insufficient.

“What we have heard repeatedly from Indigenous communities is that there is no serious consideration of their concerns,” said Blaney during a televised meeting of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs.

Citing the federal court’s decision, Blaney said that consultations with Indigenous communities consisted of “bureaucrats going out to listen to concerns and relay[ing] those concerns back to Cabinet.”

Blaney, who represents the North Island-Powell River riding, said that First Nations want direct engagement with decision-makers.

The motion put forward by Blaney called for the committee “to study the efficacy of the federal government’s fulfillment of the duty to consult Indigenous peoples with respect to the Trans-Mountain pipeline purchase and the Trans-Mountain expansion project.”

READ MORE: Trudeau says he won’t use ‘tricks’ to ram through pipeline construction

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Blaney, who serves as co-chair of the committee, was the only member to vote in favour of the motion.

A separate motion calling for a study on the consultations put forward by Conservative Party member Cathy McLeod was also defeated. McLeod and two other Tory members voted for that motion, along with Blaney, while Liberal Party members voted against it.

The committee convened in Ottawa ahead of the new Parliamentary session after Blaney and other committee members called for a special meeting in response to the federal court’s ruling.

Earlier in the week, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh called for the government to cancel the expansion of the pipeline, which the Liberal government purchased this year for $4.5 billion. Singh also called on the government to overhaul the process for reviewing energy projects and to create clean energy jobs.

The expansion project would triple the carrying capacity of the pipeline, which extends from the Edmonton area to Metro Vancouver. The project has encountered resistance from some First Nations, environmentalists and the B.C. government.

The Canadian government bought the pipeline from the Texas-based company Kinder Morgan after the company halted new investment in the project in April. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged to see the project to completion, saying it’s in the national interest.

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