Junger was also the deputy minister of the former BC Ministry of Energy, Mines, and Petroleum Resources, and he previously ran the BC Environmental Assessment Office.
He emphasized that First Nation’s groups do not have a veto on project development, but what they do have is constitutionally protected rights, and ever since 1982, they must be recognized by governments and the legal system.
Thus the courts have said there’s a duty to consult when government makes decisions or authorizes activities which could impact these aboriginal or treaty rights.
However, that noted Junger also said this about projects like the Site-C Dam, which could be under construction, before the courts hear, and/or rule, on any challenges to them. “The courts do not require projects to suspend themselves simply because litigation is initiated. In fact, the general rule is that permits and authorizations that a proponent holds are valid through the litigation process and you have to wait and see what the court says at the end, if you’re seeking to challenge the project. In some limited cases, a party can ask a court or an atypical order that would suspend the permit while the hearings are occurring, but that’s rare, very rare.”
He also noted if the court isn’t satisfied, that the government has undertaken meaningful consultation, then it can stop a project and require further consultation.
On the other hand, bringing the issue to this area, Junger said Treaty 8 actually allows government’s some rarely publicized land acquisition development options, and we’ll pick up the story tomorrow.