Alberta upholding ban of aboriginal groups at oilsands hearing

The Alberta government says it won't reconsider recent decisions to bar two aboriginal groups from speaking to regulators about oilsands developments on or near their traditional territories.

Decision comes depite urging of Appeal Court judge to loosen restrictions on who can attend

The Alberta government says it won't reconsider recent decisions to bar two aboriginal groups from speaking to regulators about oilsands developments on or near their traditional territories.

That refusal comes despite urgings from an Appeal Court judge to loosen restrictions on who has the right to appear before boards making decisions on how development in the province can proceed.

Earlier this year, a Métis Local from Fort McMurray and the Fort McKay First Nation filed statements of concern regarding oilsands developments.

But in September, both groups were told they didn't qualify to speak before the regulator.

Neither will be able to air their concerns to the body that decides how — or if  projects should proceed.

Alberta's policy on who has the right to speak at such hearings was criticized in an Oct. 1 Appeal Court judgment that overturned a decision to bar two environmental groups from appearing.

Justice Richard Marceau said the government should loosen up when it comes to deciding who has the right to address regulators.

Alberta Environment spokeswoman Nikki Booth said the government decides who can speak at hearings based on the circumstances of each case.

She said the courts are available to groups that disagree with the government's ruling.

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