First Nations' consultations over Canadian pipeline

First Nations and Indigenous Peoples in Canada are maintaining that Canada is not meeting its obligations to consult with them over oil pipelines.

Joe Oliver, the Canadian Minister of Natural Resources, says: "We have a moral and constitutional obligation to consult with Canada's First Nations," intones .

One commentator states: "Constitutionally speaking, he could not be more right. If you're going to run a pipeline through native land, you've got to sit down and talk about it with the natives. The 1982 Constitution and any number of Supreme Court of Canada rulings have spelled that out pretty clearly."

The Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline has a number of the First Nations upset at the idea of a giant pipe full of bitumen passing through their traditional territory. The risk of a spill – no matter how remote – means there will have to be a pretty persuasive argument and a whole lotta face-to-face time with federal government officials.

The public inquiry run by the National Energy Board and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency to determine whether the Enbridge pipe is safe for the environment and is in the national economic interest heard hundreds of intervenors and thousands of people making oral statements.  Lots of them are native groups and individuals.

Jackie Thomas, the chief of the Saik'uz First Nation near Vanderhoof, B.C., said about this inquiry:  "It doesn't even meet the legal standard [for consultation]."

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