Order granted vs. opponents of Coastal GasLink pipeline in northern B.C.

B.C. Supreme Court grants interlocutory order following protests by Wet’suwet’en First Nation

A checkpoint is seen at a bridge leading to the Unist’ot’en camp on a remote logging road near Houston, B.C., Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

The B.C. Supreme Court has granted Coastal GasLink an interlocutory injunction against members of a First Nation and others who oppose the company’s natural gas pipeline.

The company is building a pipeline from northeastern B.C. to LNG Canada’s export terminal in Kitimat on the coast.

Coastal GasLink says it has signed agreements with all 20 elected First Nations councils along the 670-kilometres route but hereditary chiefs in the Wet’suwet’en First Nation say the project has no authority without their consent.

The court had granted the company an interim injunction last December against pipeline opponents and protests erupted around the world when RCMP enforced it in January, arresting 14 people along a logging road leading to the construction site near Houston.

In her ruling Tuesday, Justice Marguerite Church said Coastal GasLink has the permits and authorizations for the project and has satisfied the requirements for an interlocutory injunction.

She said there is evidence to indicate that the defendants have engaged in deliberate and unlawful conduct for the purpose of causing harm to the plaintiff and preventing it from constructing the pipeline.

“There is a public interest in upholding the rule of law and restraining illegal behaviour and protecting of the right of the public, including the plaintiff, to access on Crown roads,” she wrote.

“The defendants may genuinely believe in their rights under indigenous law to prevent the plaintiff from entering Dark House territory, but the law does not recognize any right to blockade and obstruct the plaintiff from pursuing lawfully authorized activities.”

In a statement, Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs representing all five clans of the First Nation said they reject the court’s decision.

The First Nation said it is disappointed that the court rendered a decision that contradicts Wet’suwet’en law.

“Coastal GasLink has never obtained consent from the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs to enter or work on our territories,” the statement said.

“Under the threat of continued police violence, the Wet’suwet’en have complied with the interim injunction order imposed throughout our territories.”

Coastal GasLink said in a statement that it remains focused on constructing the $6.6-billion project safely and with respect to its Indigenous partners and local communities along the route.

READ MORE: TC Energy to sell a 65% equity interest in Coastal GasLink pipeline

The company contends the pipeline will deliver significant, long-term benefits for Indigenous and northern B.C. communities along its path and reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by providing natural gas to replace coal burning in Asian markets.

The Canadian Press

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