BREAKING NEWS: The Canadian government won’t oppose First Nations injunction on the Site C Dam

May 15, 2018

This is the best news we’ve had since the BC Utilities Commission’s excellent and damning report on the Site C dam in October.

On May 9, 2018 Canada’s federal Justice Department issued an Application Response containing the unexpected but welcome statement that it will not be opposing the injunction filed in BC Supreme Court by West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations. That is, it won’t oppose the First Nations’ request for a work stoppage on the Site C Dam until the civil suit alleging infringement of Treaty 8 is heard.

The Union of BC Indian Chiefs has today issued a call to John Horgan and the BC NDP government to follow Canada’s lead and stand down. Over the past several weeks, the BC government and BC Hydro have been opposing the injunction in a number of ways, including asking the court for removal of expert testimony from the case. The expert affidavits they have object edto are by former BC Hydro CEO Marc Eliesen (arguing he’s not sufficiently expert, despite having been CEO of BC, Manitoba and Ontario Hydro utilities and Ontario Deputy Minister of Energy) and Joint Review Panel on Site C Chair Harry Swain (accusing him of “bias”). That the BC government and BC Hydro could also easily be accused of lack of expertise (Hydro has not built a major dam in over 40 years) or bias did not stop the Supreme Court judge in the case from permitting these documents to be disallowed in the case (the documents will however be amended and resubmitted). These challenges beg the question: what evidence is the BC government so worried about?

The federal government’s move is excellent news. We too call on Premier Horgan, BC Attorney-General Dave Eby, the NDP government and BC Hydro to stand down and follow Canada’s lead. We thank the Attorney-General of Canada Jody Wilson-Raybould and the Justice Department for respecting First Nations, UNDRIP, FPIC and Reconciliation in this matter.

Stay tuned for further reports on this issue.

Justine Hunter, Globe and Mail:Ottawa will not oppose Site C injunction, leaving B.C. to battle in court alone
Vaughn Palmer, Vancouver Sun: NDP, BC Hydro forced to go it alone in Site C fight after feds back away
CBC: Ottawa won’t oppose halt to Site C work pending treaty rights challenge
The Narwhal (formerly Desmog): Feds surprise B.C. by abstaining on Site C dam legal challenge

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