If you ask Haida Nation President Peter Lantin, the repercussions of the federal government approving the Enbridge Northern Gateway project reach much further than Stephen Harper could ever know.
“This affects all the work done with Canada on rights and title on Haida Gwaii … it affects all of the goodwill that has been built up over the past few decades. I don’t think they realize the ripple effect this will have,” he said shortly after approval of the project was announced.
“It is very difficult to move forward in this environment when the concerns of the Haida are being completely ignored.”
Part of the problem, said Lantin, is that the JRP Terms of Reference did not specifically address the marine impacts that the Haida nation brought forward throughout the review.
“Haida Gwaii has not been assessed in the scope of this project, but if a catastrophic spill were to happen it would be our territory that was devastated,” he said, noting feedback provided to panel seems to have been ignored.
“None of the 209 conditions address concerns we raised during the Joint Review Panel process.”
Although launching an independent court case remains one option for the Haida Nation to “fight back”, the Haida are one of 31 aboriginal groups coming together to present a unified legal challenge to the project’s approval. Lantin said that spirit of cooperation is one of the only positives to come from the entire Enbridge project.
“We’re seeing First Nations come together in a way we have never seen before … if I am Canada, I am concerned about this new unity,” he said, adding the project has brought together nations with differing views on potential LNG development.
“‘No’ does not seem to be an acceptable answer to this government … it is going to blow up in their face and this is the project that is going to blow it up.”