Tsilhqot’in Nation Secures Injunction Preventing Taseko From Commencing Drilling Program Until Appeal is Determined
In a decision released from the bench, the Court of Appeal granted an injunction to the Tsilhqot’in, effectively stopping exploratory drilling and road building by Taseko Mines. The court found that the likelihood of Taseko being able to meet its 2020 deadline was in “substantial doubt.” It accepted that there was a serious issue to be tried on appeal, that there was potential for irreparable harm to the Tsilhqot’in, and that the balance of convenience favoured the grant of the injunction.
Our friends at JFK Law Corporation posted this blog yesterday re. the decision and upcoming appeal. We are hurriedly fundraising to cover the appeal costs and are so grateful to everyone who has already donated. If you can, please give:
The Tsilhqot’in Nation, represented by Tim Dickson and Aria Laskin of JFK Law, has succeeded in its application for an interlocutory injunction preventing Taseko Mines Limited from carrying out exploratory drilling work under a Notice of Work permit (“NOW”) for its proposed New Prosperity Mine at Teztan Biny (Fish Lake) and surrounding areas. The injunction will remain in place until the Tsilhqot’in’s appeal of a judicial review decision affirming the NOW is heard and determined.
Tsilhqot’in filed a judicial review application of the approval, and an injunction application to prevent work from starting under the NOW until the judicial review application was heard. The British Columbia Supreme Court granted the injunction but ultimately dismissed the judicial review application in August 2018. Immediately after, Taseko provided notice to the Tsilhqot’in that it intended to start work under the NOW. The Tsilhqot’in filed an appeal of the judicial review decision and an application for another injunction, and the injunction application was heard in September 2018.
In support of its application, Tsilhqot’in argued that the appeal had merit, that the potential harm to the Tsilhqot’in was irreparable, and that the balance of convenience – including the key goal of promoting reconciliation – favoured the grant of an injunction. It also argued that there was no urgency, as Taseko could not meet its 2020 deadline. Taseko opposed the injunction, arguing that it was entitled to the fruits of its judgment below, and that an injunction would cause economic harm in the region, among other harms.
The Court of Appeal’s decision re-affirms that when a proposed course of action will cause irreparable harm to constitutionally protected s. 35 rights – including the right to adequate consultation – that harm will be an important factor in a court’s decision of whether to grant an injunction. The case also arguably re-affirms the importance of situating reconciliation as a key factor in the balance of convenience analysis. As the British Columbia Supreme Court held in granting a similar injunction in 2011, “only by upholding the [consultation] process can reconciliation be promoted; without reconciliation, nothing is accomplished. This interest … is at risk should [an] injunction be denied, and weighs heavily in the balance of convenience” (Taseko Mines Limited v. Phillips, 2011 BCSC 1675, para. 60).