Stephen Harper had about a week to enjoy the glory of his remarkably understated whispery notification that the Enbridge climate killing pipeline will proceed.
Yesterday the Supreme Court shut down the prime minister, which they have a tendency to do because he so flagrantly intends to violate it. So they keep slapping his hand.
With the Tsilhqot’in ruling, our hope that first nations are our last line of defense against more climate killing tarsands development, has been greatly augmented.
In the coming weeks we will see how this may be the most significant Supreme Court ruling ever, at least in the areas of rights, identity, racism, dignity, economic development and ecological policy. And in my book, these areas may top all the rest of them.
First Nations can now even less easily be shoved aside to ram through the Enbridge or Kinder Morgan pipelines, or the LNG nonsense, or the destruction of fracking.
Now I’m wondering how we can leverage this ruling to shut down the tarsands altogether, ushering in a hopefully speedy move to the post-carbon energy infrastructure.
And we learn from this great CBC summary, below, that First Nations’ consent for economic projects is either necessary or if it is not given, the government now has a much higher bar than mere [often, dismissive] consultation, to show that a project is pressing and substantial, and meet fiduciary duties to the First Nations groups. I’m not sure how all that is measured, but the bar suddenly far higher. Far, far higher.
And while there are nuanced questions about whether this is a good ruling, or fair/balanced ruling, or whether it impedes other ideas of land title, or whether it’s the best result in the court case [time will let us all debate those things], I do know that today, Enbridge stock isn’t yet dropping, but soon it will when people recognize that raping and pillaging the land for carbon energy just got a great deal harder!
The court declared that title is not absolute, meaning economic development can still proceed on land where title is established as long as one of two conditions is met:
Economic development on land where title is established has the consent of the First Nation.
Failing that, the government must make the case that development is pressing and substantial, and meet its fiduciary duty to the aboriginal group.