West Coast slams B.C. Liberal Caucus for misinformation

LAWYERS at West Coast Environmental Law are calling on the BC Liberal Caucus to correct misinformation aimed at undermining environmental organizations and lawful resistance to the Coastal GasLink pipeline in Wet’suwet’en territory.

They say that in a press release and during Question Period on Wednesday, BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson attacked West Coast and a number of BC environmental groups, making wildly inaccurate statements about our funding and lawful actions in support of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs.

“It is a foundational component of the rule of law that individuals have the right to legal counsel. As a legal aid organization we work to advance environmental justice by helping ensure people know their rights and have representation before the courts,” said Jessica Clogg, Executive Director and Senior Counsel. “Grants and donations, including from international donors, make our legal aid work possible.”

In this case, West Coast agreed to pay a total of $16,250 at legal aid rates to support the legal team that argued that the Coastal GasLink injunction should never have been granted in the first place. No other financial contribution has been made by West Coast, internationally funded or otherwise, in relation to this file.

“It is wildly inaccurate of Mr. Wilkinson to throw around massive figures in a misguided attempt to drive a wedge between environmental groups and Indigenous nations, or discredit groups who receive international funding,” said Clogg. “The vast majority of the dollars cited in yesterday’s release were for our work to legally implement cooperatively developed marine plans between 16 Indigenous nations and the BC government, and our educational programs.”

West Coast legal aid funds cannot be used for legal defence of those who violate injunctions under Canadian law. There is an independent legal defence fund managed by the Unist’ot’en Camp, which has no connection to the legal aid services provided by West Coast.