The Trans Mountain pipeline debate has seen mainstream commentators and politicians in Canada position First Nations people with environmentalists and other “professional objectors” together on one side of the debate, with realists, job creators, and the national interest on the other. In effect, they pit First Nations issues and people against what they present as “serious” issues and people. Our Indigenous issues are seen as airy-fairy, theirs are about bread and butter.
However, this week’s decision by the Federal Court of Appeal to revoke the licence for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, and the victory of the First Nations that launched the suit, show once again that mainstream Canada’s failure to treat First Nations issues as serious is itself what is most destructive to the national interest.
Thursday’s court ruling declared that the government’s consultations with First Nations were nothing of the sort, but instead were mere “note-taking” sessions designed to tick a box in an approval process whose outcome had already been decided.