Belledune oil terminal project challenged federally

Three Mi'kmaq communities in Quebec are challenging the proposed Chaleur Terminals oil terminal project at the Port of Belledune, this time taking the federal government to court over lack of consultation.

Decision pending in challenge of Calgary-based Chaleur Terminals and Province of New Brunswick

Chaleur Terminals purchased 250 acres of land from the Port of Belledune in 2014, and had planned to begin construction by 2016 (Bridget Yard/CBC)

Three Mi'kmaq communities in Quebec are challenging the proposed Chaleur Terminals oil terminal project at the Port of Belledune, this time taking the federal government to court over lack of consultation.

The communities, represented by the Mi'gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat, previously challenged the provincial government's approval of the project for the same reason.

"With these kind of projects often you have both governments making decisions and both governments having to consult and accommodate affected First Nations," said Morgan Kendall, the Montreal-based lawyer representing MMS in the federal challenge.

Chaleur Terminals Inc. plans to build an oil terminal at the Port of Belledune. (Chaleur Terminals Inc.)
"So that's the case here. The federal government, through the Port of Belledune made a decision back in October of 2015 to allow the project to move forward and the Mi'kmaq just found out about that decision a month ago."

Concerns about oil spills

Chaleur Terminal's plan would see 150,000 barrels of oil travel through Quebec and the Matapedia Valley to the Restigouche region on its way to Belledune on 220 rail cars each day.

The Calgary-based company then plans to pump the crude oil into storage tanks, eventually to be transferred onto tankers for international export.

The Gaspé Mi'gmaq communities have been vocal in their concerns over how a potential oil spill would affect their way of life, especially their salmon 

"They've been writing many letters to the federal government over the last few years asking to be consulted on the project," said Kendall

"And they never got an answer."

The filing asking the court to overturn the Port of Belledune's approval was filed Wednesday.

"In this case there wasn't even consultation, beyond no consultation. There wasn't notice, just no information," said Kendall.

No decision has been released in the provincial court challenge against Chaleur Terminals and the New Brunswick government.

Lawyer Naomi Metallic, originally from the Mi'kmaq community of Listiguj, told CBC News the decision is expected to take months.