Retired captain: How Northern Gateway may ‘consult’ and ‘accommodate’ Aboriginal interests
An interesting theory has been floated in the Vancouver Sun by “an 87-year-old retired West Coast sea captain” about the Northern Gateway pipelines.
In his editorial “Harper gov’t playing ‘shell game’ on pipeline,” Capt. Edward Wray alleges that “the [federal government’s] and Enbridge’s so-called plan” for the ultimate route relies on a diversionary strategy: get people so worked up about the one “egregious and unsavoury” route (ending in Kitimat, B.C.) that they’ll readily settle for another, “safer” option (“most likely” terminating in Prince Rupert, B.C.).
After making his case for this line of argument Wray layers in another piece of speculation, namely, how Aboriginal interests would fare under this scenario:
It is my understanding that in order to pass legal muster in regards to passing this [Northern Gateway project] through First Nations’ territory, the government must both “consult” these communities and “accommodate” their interests. It appears this fall-back may be the “accommodation” necessary to meet that legal test, if the First Nations challenge the decision in court.
Now, in Canadian jurisprudence, the federal/Crown duty to consult and accommodate Aboriginal peoples’ rights under the Constitution and treaties is, shall we say, fluid and evolving. The question is: how vulnerable is this duty to the kind of cynical politicking posited by Ret’d Capt. Wray? Counter-theories and further articulations welcomed.