The National Energy Board has approved the Kinder Morgan Trans-Mountain pipeline with 157 conditions, but the most-asked question is - will the Liberals approve it?
The exact route isn’t known yet, though expansions are proposed on already existing pipeline. But the Liberals might have an out if they don’t okay the project. Even if they approve it and the project doesn’t go through, they could have someone else to blame for the fallout.
That’s because earlier this month, the Liberals adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, which includes rights to land and the stipulation that land can’t be used without consent.
The Declaration isn’t legally binding but Minister of Indigenous Affairs Carolyn Bennett says there are plans to implement it with the Constitution, meaning that aboriginals will have veto power to stop projects under the law if applied. Aboriginal groups have already brought legal challenges on oil and gas infrastructure projects. We need only to look to Northern Gateway to see they’re effective in stalling projects.
Many First Nations communities oppose the building of pipelines and oil and gas infrastructure, while 30 First Nations communities support the Trans-Mountain expansion. Justin Trudeau and the Liberals promised First Nations they’d have more say in resource development matters.
Is this what accepting the UN Declaration was all about? Under those circumstances, it would only take a few communities to oppose pipeline infrastructure to cause a commotion.