Marking 20 years
of bold journalism,
reader supported.
BC Politics

Top Court Won’t Hear Two First Nations’ Challenges to Site C

No reason given for dismissal of Prophet River and West Moberly applications.

James Munson 29 Jun

James Munson reports for iPolitics.

The Supreme Court of Canada will not hear two applications for leave dealing with the Site C hydroelectric facility in northern B.C.

The Prophet River First Nations and the West Moberly First Nations, signatories to Treaty 8, sought two applications for leave after the Federal Court of Appeal dismissed two earlier appeals, one that stemmed from Federal Court and the other from the B.C. Court of Appeal.

The case from the Federal Court began as an application for judicial review of the order-in-council that approved Site C. The order-in-council determined that the environmental effects and impact on treaty rights from the construction of the $8.8-billion hydro facility on the Peace River were justified.

The First Nations argued that the federal cabinet, which issues orders-in-council, should have made a determination on whether the project would have constituted an unjustified infringement of Indigenous rights before deciding on whether to give it a permit.

The Federal Court dismissed that argument. The Federal Court of Appeal dismissed it as well on the grounds that cabinet is not empowered to adjudicate rights. The decision was guided by a strong deference to Parliament in writing laws like the one that provided for Site C’s permit, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012.

In the second case, the B.C. Court of Appeal agreed with an earlier B.C. Supreme Court decision that provincial ministers are not required to determine if a project constitutes an infringement of treaty rights. The First Nations were seeking for such a determination in that case.

B.C. ministers were involved in the decision thanks to an agreement on joint environmental assessment between the province and the federal government.

The Supreme Court of Canada does not provide reasons when it decides against hearing an application for leave.  [Tyee]

  • Share:

Facts matter. Get The Tyee's in-depth journalism delivered to your inbox for free

Tyee Commenting Guidelines

Comments that violate guidelines risk being deleted, and violations may result in a temporary or permanent user ban. Maintain the spirit of good conversation to stay in the discussion.
*Please note The Tyee is not a forum for spreading misinformation about COVID-19, denying its existence or minimizing its risk to public health.


  • Be thoughtful about how your words may affect the communities you are addressing. Language matters
  • Challenge arguments, not commenters
  • Flag trolls and guideline violations
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity, learn from differences of opinion
  • Verify facts, debunk rumours, point out logical fallacies
  • Add context and background
  • Note typos and reporting blind spots
  • Stay on topic

Do not:

  • Use sexist, classist, racist, homophobic or transphobic language
  • Ridicule, misgender, bully, threaten, name call, troll or wish harm on others
  • Personally attack authors or contributors
  • Spread misinformation or perpetuate conspiracies
  • Libel, defame or publish falsehoods
  • Attempt to guess other commenters’ real-life identities
  • Post links without providing context


The Barometer

Are You Concerned about AI?

Take this week's poll