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Tsleil-Waututh Nation to appeal Trans Mountain

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The Tsleil-Waututh Nation of North Vancouver, B.C., says it will once again appeal the approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.

Speaking shortly after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet announced the approval on Tuesday, Chief Leah George-Wilson said the decision was disappointing, but not unexpected.

“It feels exactly like the moment those years ago the first time that Canada approved this pipeline,” George-Wilson said.

“We will be appealing this decision to the Federal Court of Appeal.”

Tsleil-Waututh was among several First Nations who were part of a Federal Court of Appeal case that effectively delayed the project last year and sent the government back to the drawing board to consult with Indigenous communities.

George-Wilson said Tuesday that consultation did not go far enough.

“We believe that the consultation once again missed the mark set by the Supreme Court of Canada and we will defend our rights,” she said.

“Our obligation is not to oil. Our obligation is to the land, to the water, to our people, to the whales.”

Rueben George, a spokesperson for the Tsleil-Waututh on the pipeline, said the First Nation is once again ready to push back against a project he believes brings no benefit to Canada. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

‘It doesn’t reduce the risk to Tsleil-Waututh’

After the Federal Court of Appeal quashed the project last summer citing inadequate Indigenous consultation and an incomplete environmental review process, a team of 60 government consultants met with First Nations and Métis communities across Alberta and B.C.

The majority of First Nations communities accepted the project. But some, like the Tsleil-Waututh, flagged the potentially devastating impacts of an oil spill on traditional lands and waters and called for the project to be killed.

The National Energy Board proposed 156 conditions that could mitigate the impacts of the pipeline expansion.

Trudeau’s cabinet accepted all these conditions and is also proposing eight more measures to address Indigenous concerns, including curbing the impact of increased tanker traffic on the southern resident killer whale population.

George-Wilson said these conditions don’t make a difference when it comes to the Tsleil-Waututh Nation’s stance on the project.

“It doesn’t matter that there are conditions today with the approval,” she said. “The conditions don’t meet or don’t take away Tsleil-Waututh’s concerns. It doesn’t reduce the risk to Tsleil-Waututh.”

On Tuesday, the federal government said it will begin meeting with Indigenous groups who are interested in buying the project.

The government is open to selling as much as 100 per cent of its stake to First Nations, Métis and Inuit investors.

Government consultation ‘contrived,’ lawyer says

Merle Alexander, an Indigenous resource lawyer, told CBC he does not believe there has been meaningful consultation with First Nations since the federal court decision.

“The consultation process was very contrived. There was a real intent to try and meet the letter of the law, but not the spirit of it,” Alexander said.

Tsleil-Waututh Nation to appeal Trans Mountain
Indigenous leaders and environmentalists beat drums and sang as they protested Kinder Morgan’s $7.4-billion Trans Mountain pipeline in southern B.C. on in March 2018. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

Some Indigenous protesters vowed to continue the fight against the expansion project. The Tiny House Warriors, Secwepemc activists living near Blue River, B.C., along the proposed pipeline route, called for Indigenous allies to prevent construction.

“The Trudeau government does not have the right to put a pipeline through unceded Secwepemc land,” spokesperson Kanahus Manuel said in a release.

Rueben George, a Tsleil-Waututh Nation spokesperson regarding the pipeline, said the community is once again ready to push back against a project he believes brings no benefit to Canada.

A day after the House of Commons passed a motion to declare a climate emergency in Canada, George said Trudeau is “incapable” of making decisions for future generations. George said he will fight to protect his family and land.

“Canadian people, we know that you see the truth outside your doors and outside your windows. Here in British Columbia last summer … there was a month of a cloud of smoke,” George said.

“Look at the disasters that are happening all over the world. Look what they said yesterday, that we’re in a crisis. We are in a crisis. They’re contradicting themselves again, so we will correct it, because we have the best interests for all of you.”

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Lieutenant governor urged to withhold assent on bill 22

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NDP leader Rachel Notley has asked Alberta’s lieutenant-governor to deny assent of Bill 22, controversial legislation introduced Monday that would fire Election Commissioner Lorne Gibson in the middle of his investigation into the UCP leadership race.

The race was won by Premier Jason Kenney in October 2017.

Gibson has been focusing on the so-called “kamikaze” leadership bid of Jeff Callaway since he took office last year and has laid more than $200,000 in fines against 15 people involved.

The Callaway and Kenney campaigns are alleged to have conspired to bring down Kenney’s main opponent Brian Jean. Both men deny the collaboration.

Notley sent a letter on Tuesday to Lt.-Gov. Lois Mitchell urging her to take action on a bill Notley calls a “misuse of the authority of the legislature” and “a threat to our democratic institutions” — particularly since the government has moved to limit time for debate.

Position would be terminated

“While I recognize that it is unusual for the lieutenant-governor to exercise this authority, I am convinced that the exceptional nature of this proposed legislation calls for such extraordinary measures,” Notley writes.

The move to fire Gibson is part of Bill 22, an omnibus-style bill introduced Monday.

The proposed legislation would dissolve the independent office of the election commissioner and change the scope of the position so it reports to Chief Electoral Officer Glen Resler.

Gibson’s contract, which was in place until 2023, would be terminated upon passage and royal assent of the bill.

The government claims the move achieves greater efficiency and saves $1 million over five years.

Critics say that by removing Gibson, Premier Jason Kenney is thwarting additional investigations into the race.

Finance Minister Travis Toews, the minister responsible for Bill 22, said Resler is free to rehire Gibson if he chooses. Toews said the change will have no effect on ongoing investigations.

The NDP will also seek an emergency debate on the bill Tuesday afternoon. Since the UCP has a majority in the Alberta legislature, the request likely will not be granted.

Notley said on Monday the NDP caucus will also be seeking advice on what legal steps can be taken to stop the government from firing Gibson.

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Snowfall hits Calgary, surrounding area

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Calgary drivers are in for a slow and slippery morning commute as the city gets a little blast of winter weather.

Calgary is expected to see 10 to 15 centimetres of snowfall on Tuesday, according to a warning from Environment Canada.

The agency says a low pressure system swept into southwestern Alberta late Monday and tracked east early Tuesday morning.

The snow is expected to taper off by Wednesday morning.

“Prepare for quickly changing and deteriorating travel conditions. Surfaces such as highways, roads, walkways and parking lots may become difficult to navigate due to accumulating snow,” the warning read.

Traffic was slow on Parkdale Boulevard N.W. as snow continued to fall Tuesday morning. (Scott Crowson/CBC)

The Calgary International Airport is reminding travellers to arrive early and check for any flight-schedule changes due to the snowfall.

Calgary Transit says two bus routes — No. 6 and No. 20 — have been detoured because of the snowfall.

Police said there were six collisions on city streets between midnight and 6:30 a.m.

The snowfall warning also covers:

  • Airdrie, Cochrane, Olds and Sundre.
  • Okotoks, High River and Claresholm.
  • Brooks, Strathmore and Vulcan.
  • Medicine Hat, Bow Island and Suffield.

A complete list of weather warnings can be viewed on Environment Canada’s website.

Rachelle McNiel shovels snow on the sidewalk outside her home on 27th Street N.W. on Tuesday. (Scott Crowson/CBC)

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François-Philippe Champagne to be Canada’s next foreign affairs minister

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François-Philippe Champagne will be Canada’s new foreign affairs minister, CBC-Radio-Canada has learned.

Champagne, who served as the minister of infrastructure and communities in the last Parliament, will replace Chrystia Freeland as Canada’s top diplomat, tasked with stickhandling the sensitive U.S. and China files.

It’s not yet known where Freeland will be moved, but she is expected to preside over a crucial domestic role as regional tensions rise across the country.

Champagne, a former trade lawyer, has served as minister of international trade in the past.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will formally unveil his new cabinet at a ceremony at Rideau Hall Wednesday afternoon.

Radio-Canada is also reporting that Jonathan Wilkinson will be the new environment minister.

Pablo Rodriguez will be the government house leader, in charge of working with opposition parties and keeping the parliamentary agenda on track. It’s a position that takes on heightened importance in a minority government.

Steven Guilbeault, a high-profile Quebec environmental activist, will be the new heritage minister, according to sources with knowledge of the appointments who spoke to CBC-Radio Canada. The sources spoke on condition they not be named because they were not authorized to comment.

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