Remarks on the Trans Mountain Expansion Project by the Honourable Amarjeet Sohi, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources


October 3, 2018

Hello and good morning, everyone.

Just under two weeks ago, I shared our government’s first steps to respond to the Federal Court of Appeal’s decision on the Trans Mountain Expansion Project.

Today, I am here to talk about the second part of our path forward.

First, let me reiterate that this government is committed to renewing Canada’s relationship with Indigenous peoples. No relationship is more important to us.

For too long, Indigenous peoples have had to fight to have their rights recognized and implemented.

As a government, we are committed to doing things differently.

It’s why, for the first time, we co-developed with First Nations and Métis leaders an Indigenous Advisory and Monitoring Committee to help oversee the safety of this project.

It’s why our Indigenous consultations on TMX were more extensive than any in the past, though it is clear that it still fell short.

We took these steps to ensure the voices, knowledge and counsel of Indigenous peoples would be at the table.

And while the Court acknowledged that the framework that we put in place was sound — and we acted in good faith when we consulted on TMX — it decided there was more work to be done in Phase III of these consultations.

We set a high bar to begin with, but we understand that we can and must do better.

Which is why, after careful consideration, our government has decided that we will not appeal the Court’s decision.  

We have decided to follow the guidance of the Federal Court of Appeal. We believe that we can and must move forward by engaging in a meaningful and focused consultation with Indigenous groups on the Trans Mountain Expansion Project.

So, with this in mind, our government has decided to re-initiate Phase III consultations with Indigenous groups impacted by the project.

We are going to do things differently this time.

  • First, government representatives on the ground will have a clear mandate to conduct meaningful consultations and be empowered to discuss reasonable accommodations with Indigenous groups on the issues that are important to them.
  • Second, we are going to work with First Nations and Métis communities and seek their views on how to get Phase III right.
  • Third, we are more than doubling the capacity in our consultation teams, with expertise from across and outside of the Government.
  • And fourth, consultations will be specifically tailored to the groups we meet.

Let me be clear: we are not starting over. We are building on the relationships we have, the information we’ve gathered and the consultations done to date.

And, finally, as we move through Phase III consultations, we will have access to the best possible advice from within and outside of government.

I am pleased to announce that our government has appointed former Supreme Court of Canada Justice, the Honourable Frank Iacobucci, as a Federal Representative to oversee the consultation process.

He will initially provide advice on designing the process and will then oversee it to ensure that Indigenous consultations are meaningful and comply with the direction given by the Federal Court of Appeal.

I’m confident that the Phase III consultation process will be better, owing to his expertise and advice working with First Nations in Ontario in the development of the Ring of Fire and as part of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

Taken together with our instructions to the National Energy Board, these initiatives represent tangible and substantial ways that our government will follow our duty to consult to move TMX forward in the right way.

Let me repeat, we are committed to working with Indigenous groups to address their concerns. And we believe it’s worth taking the time to get it right, together.

With these first steps, we have every confidence that we can do so.

We truly believe the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project is an investment in Canada’s future.

But it must move forward in the right way.

Thank you.

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