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B.C.’s top court rules for $6.6-billion Coastal GasLink pipeline, against Indigenous law – Financial Post

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CALGARY – The Supreme Court of British Columbia has ruled that Indigenous law is not necessarily Canadian law in a decision that will enable more construction work on the $6.6-billion Coastal GasLink pipeline despite some First Nations opposition.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Marguerite Church ruled Tuesday that Coastal GasLink has suffered irreparable harm after protestors built blockades and camps to stop work crews from accessing parts of the natural gas pipeline route between Dawson Creek and Kitimat, B.C., where a massive LNG export terminal is under construction.

Church granted both an interlocutory injunction and an enforcement order, which will “provide a mandate to the RCMP to enforce the terms of the order.”

While Wet’suwet’en customary laws clearly exist on their own independent footing, they are not recognized as being an effectual part of Canadian law

Justice Church

The decision doesn’t spell out what the RCMP can do to enforce the injunction but police have been heavily scrutinized over the past year for enforcing a previous injunction granted by Justice Church against Coastal GasLink protestors.

Last January, RCMP officers enforcing an interim injunction order for Coastal GasLink moved on a blockade, arrested protestors and removed obstacles in what became a nationally televised confrontation.

The case has showcased divisions within some First Nations communities, where elected chiefs and hereditary chiefs sometimes jostle to enforce title rights of parts of traditional territories.


Protesters rally last year in Vancouver in support of the Wet’suwet’en, who had set up a checkpoint and camp in opposition to the TransCanada Coastal GasLink pipeline.

Nick Procaylo/PostMedia

In this case, Coastal GasLink has signed agreements with elected First Nations groups along the pipeline route, but a group of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have said they oppose the project and tried to use First Nations law to prevent the company from building the pipeline.

In her decision, Justice Church took issue with various First Nations groups and some hereditary chiefs claiming that Indigenous laws give them legal rights to blockade crews trying to access the area.

“They submit that the plaintiff is in their traditional territory in violation of Wet’suwet’en law and authority and their efforts in erecting the Bridge Blockade were to prevent violation of Wet’suwet’en law,” Justice Church wrote.

However, she also noted that Indigenous laws do not become part of Canadian common or domestic law until they are enshrined through treaties, court declarations, statutory provisions or other means.

“There has been no process by which Wet’suwet’en customary laws have been recognized in this manner,” the judge wrote. “While Wet’suwet’en customary laws clearly exist on their own independent footing, they are not recognized as being an effectual part of Canadian law.”

However, the overlap between Canadian law and Indigenous law has not been completely settled and courts across the country have had different opinions on the topic, said Dwight Newman, a law professor at the University of Saskatchewan and the Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Rights and Constitutional Law.

“I think there are some interesting tensions to be sorted out, which is a major issue for Canada in terms of in what ways Indigenous law does or does not become part of Canadian law,” Newman said in an interview.

“In terms of this particular decision, the judge is also saying that there wasn’t very good evidence in terms of what the Indigenous law was,” Newman said, noting the judge found multiple groups claiming rights over tracts of land amid conflicting claims of hereditary lineage.

The group of opposed Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs released a statement saying they would reject the Supreme Court decision, which they said has “criminalized” their Indigenous laws.

“We have a responsibility to enforce Wet’suwet’en laws and to ensure the health of our territories for future generations, as we have done for thousands of years,” the statement noted.

Coastal GasLink and some of the opposed hereditary chiefs came to an agreement on a protocol for accessing the area in April 2019, but some protestors have continued to impede work at the site.

Unidentified protestors had previously contravened an interim injunction, Justice Church wrote in her ruling.

In one case, the judge wrote, masked protestors delayed work by “driving a pickup truck into an active work site at a high rate of speed and close to contractors actively working on the road.”

For its part, Coastal GasLink said in a release it will continue to “abide by the terms” of agreements it signed with opposed groups like the Unist’ot’en Camp and “will continue efforts to engage with any affected groups to ensure public safety while our field crews continue to progress their crucial activities.”

• Email: gmorgan@nationalpost.com | Twitter:

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Global National: Jan. 19, 2022 | Canada's inflation rate soars to its highest level since 1991 – Global News

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Deal reached between B.C. First Nations and forestry company to defer old-growth logging – CBC.ca

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Logging will be temporarily deferred in approximately 2,500 hectares of old-growth forest following an agreement between four Vancouver Island First Nations and a forestry company.

The Nanwakolas Council, which represents four First Nations, and Western Forest Products have agreed to defer old-growth logging in a section of forest north of Campbell River, for two years.

The deferral includes preservation of 10 square kilometres of forest identified by an old-growth advisory panel as needing protection.

Another 15 square kilometres of priority ancient forests were also deferred through other agreements between the nations and the forestry firm.

In November, the government said it would defer the logging of B.C.’s rarest old-growth trees and gave 200 First Nations a deadline to say if they supported the deferrals or if they thought further discussion was required.

Nanwakolas Council president Dallas Smith used a pop-culture reference to summarize his reaction to the agreement.

“If you’re a Star Wars person, I feel like Luke Skywalker in the newer movies – we have our Jedi powers now and we’re not questioning whether we are or not,” Smith said.

“We are First Nations and we are in control of this. And it’s like Yoda said, ‘Do or do not. [There is] no try.’ And we’re doing it now.”

First Nations waited for years to ensure their cultural values were incorporated to discussions about forests and all that they hold, Smith said, adding that came together with the agreement.

Smith said unlike in the past, those solutions will come from First Nations, be rooted in Indigenous values, but still look after the economic concerns of the region.

Approval from First Nations required

Smith said another part of their agreement is that any other harvesting will have to be done after approval with all First Nations communities.

Forests Minister Katrine Conroy said Wednesday the temporary halt of logging in large sections of old-growth is an important measure giving First Nations and the forest industry time and space to develop long-term strategies.

“A temporary deferral is a step in a long-term partnership and vision for forest management that will benefit local communities and ecosystem health,” she said at a news conference.

Tegan Hansen, a forest campaigner at Stand.earth, says all deferrals recommended by the old-growth advisory panel should happen now.

“I’m really not hopeful if the province tries to piecemeal small deferrals over a very long period of time when what we need to see is a process where instead of nations having to opt in to logging deferrals, we have deferrals as a base, which is what the recommendation is, and nations can opt in to logging as they choose on their territories,” Hansen said.

“So we’re really seeing a flip in the order of process in terms of what the old growth strategic review set out for the province.”

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China’s international flight suspensions leave travellers stranded, hurt businesses

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When Dwight Law’s father died in November, the Shanghai-based U.S. expat flew back to Kansas, leaving his wife and dog behind in China while he attended to matters relating to his father’s death.

Law, who runs an architecture and design firm, has lived in Shanghai for 20 years and had expected to return last week.

But with dozens of flights between China and the United States suspended by Chinese authorities because of passengers testing positive for COVID-19 on arrival, finding a flight back even in February is proving near-impossible and posing a threat to Law’s company.

“Now with no flights scheduled, I am currently locked out of China, away from my wife and family and not able to attend to business,” Law said. “I have 50 employees in China. Without my presence, the business will suffer and so will the livelihoods of each employee.”

Even before the latest flight cancellations, international capacity to and from China was running at just 2% of pre-COVID levels as the country sticks to a strict zero-COVID policy of stamping out all cases while other parts of world open up.

The zero-COVID mentality is likely to stay for most of 2022, Bank of America Securities analysts said in a note on Tuesday, in bad news for the 845,000 foreign passport holders in China, a number already reduced since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

China’s aviation regulator in January alone cancelled 143 return flights as the highly transmissible Omicron variant spreads across the globe, according to a report from Chinese aviation data provider flight master last Friday.

That was the most in a month since it introduced a policy of suspending flights when positive cases were found in June 2020.

The flight suspensions, which also include some services to Europe and other parts of Asia, are one of the biggest challenges faced by companies doing business in China, said a spokesperson for the Europe Chamber of Commerce in China.

“The recent cancellations send a clear message that China will not deviate from its current strategy,” the spokesperson said, referring to the zero-COVID policy.

 

Graphic: China’s international flight suspensions – https://graphics.reuters.com/CHINA-AVIATION/USA-FLIGHTS/lbvgnjerbpq/chart.png

 

China now requires passengers to have started costly COVID tests seven days before boarding in the departure city of their direct flight into China. That creates a headache for travellers like Law who are not based in U.S. cities with direct flights.

Tough travel policies in transit hubs for U.S.-China travellers like Taiwan, Korea and Japan also effectively rule out less costly indirect flights.

A Google Flights search by Reuters shows no flights from San Francisco to Shanghai are available for booking until late March at any price.

Jing Quan, minister of the Chinese embassy in the United States, said Beijing is working closely with the U.S. State Department to strike a balance on the number of commercial flights to China. Charter flights for Olympics athletes have not been affected, he said.

There has also been less of an impact on cargo. China Southern Airlines plans to fly its A380 superjumbos with cargo only from Los Angeles to Guangzhou, while carrying passengers in the other direction, it told the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).

Hainan Airlines has received U.S. approvals for cargo-only flights using passenger planes and China Eastern is seeking a similar nod, according to DOT filings.

While that is a comfort to exporters, it provides little solace to stranded travellers like Law.

“COVID will not go away I am afraid. It is here to stay,” he said. “What’s China going to do, close its borders for the next five or 10 years while the world outside of China learns to manage, live and gain herd immunity? It’s nuts.”

 

(Reporting by Stella Qiu in Beijing and Jamie Freed in Sydney; additional reporting by Martin Pollard in Shanghai; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

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