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Apr 29, 2013
A&B Successful in Landmark Court of Appeal Decision
Following an eight day Court of Appeal hearing (the longest in that court since 1987), Aird & Berlis LLP lawyer, Chris Matthews, obtained a successful result for Resolute Forest Products (formerly known as Abitibi) in the case of Keewatin v. Minster of Natural Resources and Resolute Forest Products. The Ontario Court of Appeal allowed the appeals of the Ontario Minister of Natural Resources, the Attorney General of Canada and Resolute in a decision released on March 18, 2013.
The decision overturns the trial judgment of the Ontario Superior Court. The original decision interpreted Treaty 3 (an Indian treaty from 1873) as requiring federal approval of all land uses, including forestry licences, mining permits and Crown patents, in a 22,000 square kilometre portion of northwestern Ontario, if such uses might interfere with aboriginal hunting and fishing. Given the similarity of wording in other treaties, the decision has the potential to affect existing and future natural resources projects and developments in much of Canada, as well as impact the consultation process with First Nations.
The Court of Appeal disagreed with the trial judge and found that Ontario does have the jurisdiction to authorize land uses, and that the treaty language applies to the provincial as well as the federal Crown. The hearing of the appeal involved three appellants, the respondents and six groups of intervenors.