The Business Council of British Columbia has released the following statement from President and Chief Executive Officer, Greg D’Avignon regarding this week’s ruling by the Federal Court of Appeal:
“The decision by the Federal Court of Appeal to overturn the Government of Canada’s approval of the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion underscores the result of the lack of consistent and clear guidelines on how to seek consent and approvals on major permitted projects in Canada.
“Increasingly, major projects and investment decisions in this country are being permitted and regulated through the courts rather then by our duly elected legislators. We cannot govern a country, meaningfully reconcile with First Nations, or build the economy through the courts.
“Once again, the goal posts have been moved on an approved project of national significance. It is unfair to ask businesses to enter a process with uncertain timelines, unknown costs and a lack of clarity as to when, or even if, they will arrive at a final decision. This continues to erode investor confidence in Canada at a time when there are countless opportunities to invest in jurisdictions around the world, including many that don’t have the same rigorous environmental or social standards as Canada.
“Responsible natural resource development activity contributes to 55% of Canada’s merchandise exports and can be a pathway towards economic reconciliation and self-determination for many Indigenous communities, particularly in remote, rural and resource rich regions. The court’s decision also threatens to undermine existing agreements providing sole source income and supporting economic reconciliation for the majority of First Nations located along the Trans Mountain project expansion route.
“Our elected leaders must assume the responsibilities they continue to defer to the courts if we are to determine Canada’s path forward. What businesses are we in? How will we undertake these activities responsibly? How do we create certainty for those who want to invest in our country? How can we advance reconciliation with Indigenous peoples through the benefits to be gained as partners in natural resource activity? And how do we continue to generate prosperity that supports the quality of life Canadians have come to rely upon?
“Despite ongoing calls for increased clarity and certainty in decision making, we continue to see governments advance ideas and legislation that undermine those very principles. For example, Bill C-69, which proposed changes to the federal Environmental Impact Assessment process, we believe will further erode investor confidence through the creation of more complexity, subjectivity, and unclear process that does little to provide the environmental protection that is intended.”