A Group of First Nations Files a Lawsuit Against the Federal Government

A group of First Nations and environmentalists is planning to file a lawsuit tomorrow against the federal government in an attempt to stop the Petronas-led Pacific Northwest L-N-G project at Lelu Island near Prince Rupert.


The federal government gave conditional approval to the 36-billion- dollar project -- which also includes a pipeline -- last month.


Chief Negotiator of the Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs Glen Williams says the project could have a severe impact on communities in the area by destroying habitat for local salmon stocks.



Williams says Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs want the Federal Court to declare that proper consultation with First Nations did not occur, and subsequently cancel approval for the project.


“There’s commitment, that there’s honor and part of the crown that we should be engaged with proper title and rights holders to maybe look at alternatives. Maybe an alternative site, maybe doing some proactive engagement with the people on the coast for addressing some of their concerns because this is not the only plant that has been proposed there and also maybe looking at newer technology in reducing climate change,” said Williams.


He says he hopes a B-C Supreme Court judgment that blocked the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline earlier this year because First Nations weren't properly consulted will set a precedent for success in this suit.


“You don’t go to court just to lose—we go to court to win and signals from the federal court of appeal in the last few months have been cleared. The conduct of the crown and that’s why were there—its only recourse we have. They failed to consult with us, therefore what they’ve done—cabinets and the minister and the report itself should be poshed—it should be poshed by the courts,” said Williams.


Others involved in the lawsuit include the Allied Tsimshian Tribes of Lax Kw'alaams, Union of B-C Indian Chiefs, Gitxsan and Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs and the SkeenaWild Conservation Trust.


 A spokesperson for Pacific NorthWest L-N-G was not immediately available for comment on the First Nations claim.