JRP denies most requests from Coastal First Nations to question BC on Northern Gateway

The Northern Gateway Joint Review Panel has denied four out of the five requests from Coastal First Nations to question the province of British Columbia about its position on the controversial pipeline and tanker project. A decision on the fifth request is reserved pending a response from the province and other parties.

So far, the province has not participated in the Joint Review hearings nor has it filed any evidence.

A five part motion by the Coastal First Nations was an attempt to compel the government of Premier Christy Clark to participate.

The motion requested

a) compel the Province of British Columbia (Province) to file a technical report that was reported on in the Globe and Mail on 3 June 2012;

b) compel the Province to file any other reports or assessments it has;

c) allow intervenors to file information requests on any evidence filed by the Province;

d) compel the Province to indicate whether or not it will issue a Certificate for the
Project pursuant to the BC Environmental Assessment Act; and

e) compel the Province to indicate whether it intends to consult with First Nations on the
Project, and if so, how and when.

The JRP reserved its judgement on the request on item (a) to release the report mentioned in the Globe and Mail. A few days after Coastal First Nations made the request, lawyers representing the province requested an extension to respond to the CFN motion. The JRP gave both BC and Northern Gateway until July 16 to respond and then the CFN has until July 20 to reply.

On item (b) forcing the province to release other assessments, the JRP ruled that the information requested was “unclear and excessively broad” and so the request was denied.

On item (c) allowing intervenors to question on evidence from the province, the JRP ruled that Coastal First Nations had requested “a blanket right for parties to ask information
requests on evidence that is not yet filed.” The JRP said “ not persuaded that all parties ought to be given a blanket right to ask information requests on evidence that is not yet filed” and denied the request. The JRP added: “If a party believes it needs to ask a late information
request (as opposed to asking a hearing question) on specific evidence, the Panel will consider
that request.”

On items (d) and (e) the panel cited constitutional concerns, saying it related to authorizations in provincial jurisdiction and ruled “No justification is provided as to why this
information would be relevant to the federal review….” The JRP said it was “persuaded that it has any legal authority over these areas of provincial jurisdiction, or that it would be appropriate or relevant to the federal review, to obtain information about provincial affairs.”

JRP Ruling No 60 CFN Notice of Motion