Media Release

Mohawks and Residents' Group take Napanee Dump Battle to the Supreme Court of Canada

Sep 09 2004

TORONTO.  Lawyers for the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte ("MBQ") and concerned residents of Tyendinaga Township announced today that their respective clients will be taking the Richmond Landfill court case to the Supreme Court of Canada. "In my opinion, this case raises questions of national importance that should be determined by the Supreme Court of Canada," stated Patrick Schindler, lawyer for the MBQ. "For example, the case raises the question whether the fiduciary duty which Ministers of the Crown owe to First Nations includes a duty to take into consideration the concerns of the First Nation about a large garbage dump which may adversely impact their territory. In addition, the case raises a serious issue about the interpretation of amendments to the Environmental Assessment Act brought in by the Harris government and also raises questions about the proper standard by which Courts should review the actions of a provincial cabinet Minister." In a decision released on August 25th, the Ontario Court of Appeal overturned a Divisional Court ruling that had quashed the Environment Minister’s approval of Terms of Reference under the Environmental Assessment Act regarding the proposed expansion of the Richmond Landfill near Napanee. In its decision, the Court of Appeal held that "as between the courts and the Minister, the Minister is in a far better position" to decide questions of statutory interpretation. "In our view, the Court of Appeal decision in this matter raises serious legal questions about the correct interpretation of the Environmental Assessment Act," said Richard Lindgren, lawyer for the local residents. "The judgment also raises the fundamental issue of whether courts should defer to Ministerial decisions on questions of statutory interpretation." The MBQ and local residents have a 60 day period in which to prepare, serve and file their written applications for leave (i.e. permission) to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada. If leave to appeal is granted, then the matter will proceed to an appeal hearing before the Supreme Court of Canada. - 30 - For more information : Patrick Schindler 416-410-0809 Richard Lindgren 613-385-1686