Supreme Court rules against Grassy Narrows, province has rights to logging - APTN NewsAPTN News

Supreme Court rules against Grassy Narrows, province has rights to logging

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The Supreme Court of Canada ruled against Grassy Narrows First Nation Friday paving the way for the province of Ontario to log the land and potentially end a longstanding court battle.

For years the First Nation has been battling the province to stop logging and mining companies from trespassing in its treaty area.

Grassy Narrows saw its 2011 court victory over the Ontario government overturned last year by the Ontario Court of Appeal.

The case involved whether Canada or Ontario has the jurisdiction to issue logging permits on the Grassy Narrows territory.

Now, the Supreme Court has also ruled against the First Nation in a 7-0 decision.

“I have concluded that Ontario has the power to take up lands in the Keewatin area under Treaty 3, without federal approval or supervision. Provided it does so in a manner that respects the requirements set out in Mikisew, doing this does not breach Treaty 3 harvesting rights,” the ruling reads and can be found here.

The case was heard May 14.

According to the decision, the Ontario government granted a license to a “large” pulp mill company to clear-cut areas on Crown lands within Keewatin in 1997.

But in 2005, Grassy Narrows launched a court action to set aside the license saying it violated their Treaty 3 harvesting rights.

Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia supported Ontario in the case, while a long list of First Nations backed Grassy Narrows as interveners.

One of the main questions in the case focused on whether Ontario has the right to take up land within Treaty 3 that was negotiated with federal government.

The Supreme Court said the view that only Canada can take up land, or authorize it, is a “misconception.”

“It is true that Treaty 3 was negotiated with the Crown in right of Canada.  But that does not mean that the Crown in right of Ontario is not bound by and empowered to act with respect to the treaty,” Friday’s ruling stated.

More to come.