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CHIPPEWAS OF THE THAMES –
The Supreme Court of Canada sided with Goliath over David Wednesday. And David is furious about it.
As the country’s highest court unanimously supported Enbridge Pipelines Inc.’s changes to the Line 9 pipeline stretching across southern Ontario, they dismissed opposition from a local Indigenous community, the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation.
Their leader, Chief Myeengun Henry, reacted with fiery remarks shortly after the decision came down.
“I’m very insulted by the fact that they made this decision and now I’m rejuvenated in the fact that we’re going to continue the fight and that fight is going to take place directly,” he told The Free Press.
“Canada, please know we are no longer your stepping stone and that we are going to fight for our rights. I hope Justin Trudeau understands this.”
There were about 70 people at a Chippewas of the Thames community centre Wednesday, waiting to hear word of the Supreme Court decision. When it was announced, the crowd went silent, but a sense of shock and anger took over.
As one local politician put it: “I am very, very angry.”
Fears of environmental tragedy pushed the Indigenous community to take their fight to Canada’s highest court after their case was dismissed almost three years ago in a split 2-1 decision at the Federal Court.
Enbridge, Canada’s largest pipeline company, had gone to the National Energy Board to seek approvals to their project without having to jump through the regulatory hoops.
The Chippewas stood up, backed by Ontario chiefs, claiming that they hadn’t been consulted adequately to allow the project to continue and that Enbridge was violating Section 35 of the Constitution that requires governments to consult with Indigenous communities about any industrial development that could affect their land.
The case was heard at the Supreme Court level after the majority decision of the Federal Court ruled that, because the government wasn’t part of the original application to build the pipeline, the National Energy Board wasn’t required to find out if Indigenous peoples needed to be consulted to change it.
The pipeline is expected to carry light crude oil but the pipeline can ship heavy crude such as diluted oilsands bitumen from Alberta.
Once the flow is reversed, it will increase to 300,000 barrels of oil a day, up from 240,000 barrels.
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