The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs wants to challenge the approval of the Enbridge Line 3 Replacement Project. 

The AMC filed an application for leave to file a judicial review Thursday. 

In a release, outgoing Grand Chief Derek Nepinak said approving the line will make it harder for Canada to meet its climate change commitments and will increase the risk of a spill in Manitoba's watershed. 

"Canada committed to restoring public confidence and modernizing the [National Energy Board] with a specific focus on Indigenous and traditional knowledge," Nepinak said. "Instead, the Enbridge Line 3 decision is founded upon a process that marginalized Indigenous voices and legal orders."

Nepinak said the Great Binding Law — which was the outcome of ceremonies by indigenous elders in June pondering the future of tar sands and pipelines through ancestral lands — should have been part of the NEB report and the federal Order in Council

The AMC's filing will argue that the approval process did not consult the Great Binding Law adequately, alleging the NEB declined two invitations to listen to the Great Binding at a sacred lodge. 

As a result, Nepinak argues in the release, the consultation process was inadequate. 

Nepinak called on Canada to "acknowledge that the Great Binding Law exists, respect Indigenous laws as equal, and understand that the Great Binding Law must be heard in ceremony, sacred lodges, and in Indigenous languages."

"It is unfortunate we have to go to court when there clearly is no political will with the current federal government to live up to Prime Minister Trudeau's comment that no other relationship is as important as the one with indigenous people in Canada," he said. 

Line 3

Line 3 is the largest pipeline project in Enbridge's history. The 1,659-kilometre project would carry oil from a terminal near Hardisty, Alta., through northern Minnesota to Superior, Wis. (CBC)

A Nov. 25 Order in Council authorizing the project to go forward said that "the Governor in Council, having considered Aboriginal concerns and interests identified in the Crown Consultation and Accommodation Report dated October 31, 2016, is satisfied that the consultation process undertaken is consistent with the honour of the Crown." 

Pipeline volume to nearly double

The NEB signed off on a new Line 3 in April, but with 89 conditions for the segment that runs from eastern Alberta to Gretna, Man., near the Canada-U.S. border.

The $7.5-billion Line 3 project would nearly double the existing pipeline's volume to 760,000 barrels a day. It would funnel oil into Enbridge's crown jewel, the mainline system that collectively carries three million barrels a day into the U.S.

The existing line, constructed in the 1960s, has been a source of spills in the past, and the company has voluntarily dialled back capacity to address mounting maintenance issues while it pushes ahead with a replacement.

"We're pleased by the federal government's decision to approve the Line 3 replacement program, an essential maintenance project that will ensure the safe and reliable delivery of Canada's energy resources to market," Enbridge said in a statement. "We have strong support for the project from our communities along the route, including Indigenous communities."