Manitoba Chiefs Suing Trudeau Over Enbridge’s Line 3 Pipeline Approval

by: Obert Madondo |  | Published December 30, 2016, by The Canadian Progressive

Canadian activists urge Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to freeze the expansion of the Alberta tar sands during a #ClimateWelcome sit-in protest outside his Rideau Hall residence on Sunday, Nov. 8, 2015. Photo credit: Obert Madondo/The Canadian Progressive / Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

The Trudeau government’s approval of Enbridge’s Line 3 tar sands pipeline is being challenged in the Federal Court by the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs.

Grand Chief Derek Nepinak announced the challenge via Facebook on Wednesday:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the feds’ approval of the Line 3 on November 29. The approval gives Calgary-based Enbridge Inc., the project’s owner,  permission to build a new 1,600-kilometre pipeline to replace the current Line 3 pipeline, built in 1968. The new pipeline will link Alberta and Wisconsin, boosting the flow of  diluted bitumen from the current 390,000 barrel per day to 760,000 barrels a day.

Argus Media recently reported that, “The proposed new route crosses grasslands in Minnesota and could threaten downstream waterways and violate treaty rights to fish, hunt and gather crops, including wild rice, opponents contend.”

RELATED: Court overturns Canada’s approval of Northern Gateway pipeline

During the Harper era, Canada’s national energy strategy relied on the unbridled expansion of the Alberta tar sands. Earlier this year, over 40 Canadian groups urged the Trudeau government to resist Big Oil’s pressure to champion the expansion of tar sands operations and pipelines. In a joint letter, the groups stated:

The Kinder Morgan, Northern Gateway, Line 3 and Energy East pipelines would lock Alberta and Canada into producing and shipping heavy crude for many years to come, well beyond the 2050 deadline in the Paris climate agreement set as a goal for weaning ourselves off of fossil fuels. Building more pipelines conflicts with the expertise of more than 100 scientists in Canada who have publicly called for no further expansion in the tar sands.

The letter urged Trudeau to take the lead in uniting Canadians around “a nation-building pipeline”. It urged the prime minister to respect the concerns of Indigenous communities affected by tar sands expansions. Quote:

Forcing a pipeline approval will be on a collision course with respect for the UN Declaration on the RIghts of Indigenous Peoples.

Then there is the idea of reconciliation between Canada and First Nations. The Liberals wants us to believe they’re committed to genuine reconciliation. The mandate letters Trudeau issued to his ministers after assuming power in the fall of 2015 stated that the time for “a renewed, nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous Peoples, based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership” had arrived. According to Trudeau:

No relationship is more important to me and to Canada than the one with Indigenous Peoples.

First Nations leaders have repeatedly stated that no genuine reconciliation is possible as long as Canada continues to approve fossil fuel-based projects that threaten their communities and the planet.

In a joint letter release soon after the Liberals came to power, the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, and The Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador listed fixing the broken tar sands pipeline review process and consultation among prerequisites for genuine reconciliation.

“There are real opportunities now for the federal government to finally recognize First Nations’ rightful place at the core of Canada’s past and its future,” the letter stated. “First Nations and Canada have a lot of work to do regarding measures needed to finally put us all on the path of reconciliation and partnership.”

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Obert Madondo is an Ottawa-based progressive blogger, and the founder and editor of The Canadian Progressive. Follow him on Twitter: @Obiemad