The Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador (AFNQL) has formally declared its opposition to TransCanada's proposed Energy East pipeline.
A resolution adopted Wednesday at a conference organized by the Mohawk Council of Kanesatake in Quebec City requests that Ghislain Picard, the AFN chief for the region, lead opposition to the 4,500-kilometre oil pipeline, both inside and outside the province of Quebec.
“The resolution was adopted unanimously, which makes me very proud.” said Kanesatake Grand Chief Serge Simon. “This is one of the biggest issues facing First Nations.”
"Ghislain is a good mediator and a good politician. He’s forceful when he needs to be," said Chief Simon.
The three-page resolution asserts that Energy East poses "the very real risk of a toxic tarsands spill that could not be adequately cleaned up" and says the 1.1-million barrels a day conduit will also "fuel catastrophic climate change."
It also says the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People — officially adopted last month by the Trudeau government — bolsters their rights over lands and resources affected by the pipeline project.
The resolution calls on the federal and Quebec governments to fulfill their constitutional obligations "including completely overhauling the NEB's review of the project in collaboration with First Nations."
It's just the latest Quebec hurdle for TransCanada, which has already shelved plans for a tanker terminal at Cacouna, Que., due to concerns over beluga calving grounds in the Saint Lawrence.
A group of mayors from the Montreal area caused a national furor in January when they came out against the pipeline crossing their municipalities, saying the potential spill risks were too high.
Amid the vocal opposition, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall will be in Montreal on Thursday to meet Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard as he continues a cross-country tour to advocate for building the $15.7-billion pipeline to New Brunswick.
The new Liberal government in Ottawa has said major resource projects cannot go forward without better consultations with indigenous communities, but it has also maintained that First Nations do not hold a veto over development.
The National Energy Board is holding a news conference Thursday in Calgary to provide an update on the Energy East regulatory process. The Liberals have said a decision on the pipeline application isn't expected for at least another two years.
-With files from Sam Moore