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The story noted the province also has deals in place with First Nations, here in the northeast gas extraction region, and that consultations are underway with seven more.

As promised Monday, we’ll focus this on the consultation principles involved, with Robin Junger, an attorney in aboriginal and environmental law, and a former deputy minister in the provincial ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources.

He notes in this area, those are essentially Treaty 8 principles, but he points out they extend beyond constitutionally protected aboriginal rights, since the treaty also allows for governments, to take up lands for necessary development.

So he says in the case of legally challenged projects, the government must convince the court it has made a reasonable decision successfully balancing both aboriginal and broader societal interests.

Junger puts it this way “What I will say is that provided the crown has managed duty to consult, the mere fact that people are challenging a project in court does not mean it will not go forward.”

He says even if a project is politically sensitive, the courts will consider whether or not Aboriginal people have been consulted in a fair way but that doesn’t mean they can stop the projects all together, “But the courts have also said, that Aboriginal Groups do not have a categorical veto, and that so long as the government meets its duties it can continue to govern in the interest of all Canadians.”


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