Media Release

Mohawks and Residents' Group File Appeal Applications with the Supreme Court of Canada

Oct 28 2004

Lawyers for the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte (MBQ) and concerned residents of Tyendinaga Township have formally filed their applications for leave to appeal the Richmond Landfill court case to the Supreme Court of Canada. In their leave applications, the MBQ and Tyendinaga Township residents argue that the case raises serious issues of national importance that should be heard and determined by the Supreme Court of Canada. On August 25, 2004, 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 (EA Act) regarding the proposed expansion of the Richmond Landfill near Napanee. "The Court of Appeal judgment raises serious questions about whether courts should defer to a Minister’s incorrect interpretation of the law," said Richard Lindgren, lawyer for the Tyendinaga Township residents. "In this case, the Court of Appeal did not find that the Minister correctly interpreted the EA Act, but the Court refused to overturn the Minister’s decision to approve the Terms of Reference submitted by Canadian Waste Services Inc." "This case raises several important issues" stated Patrick Schindler, lawyer for the MBQ. "During the last 25 years, the Supreme Court of Canada has attempted to restate the principles of administrative law. Regrettably, this has led to uncertainty and doubt about the correct application of the law. The fact that in this case the judges of the Divisional Court and the Court of Appeal reached diametrically opposed results while purporting to apply the same principles of administrative law propounded by the Supreme Court of Canada shows that the law in this area needs more careful consideration. The decision of the Court of Appeal was particularly disappointing because it dealt a blow to the rule of law in Ontario by allowing one Environment Minister in the Harris Government, the Hon. Tony Clement, to interpret amendments to the Environmental Assessment Act in a manner that contradicted assurances given to the Ontario Legislature by another Environment Minister in the Harris Government, the Hon. Brenda Elliot, when she introduced those amendments in the Legislature in the early days of the Harris government. The Court of Appeal also ignored important arguments raised by the Mohawks about the fiduciary duty which the Minister of the Environment owed to them to protect their territory. These are important issues which the Mohawks feel deserve a ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada as the highest court in this country," Mr. Schindler said.Canadian Waste Services Inc. now has 30 days in which to respond to the leave applications filed by the MBQ and Tyendinaga Township residents. Upon receipt of the CWS response, the MBQ and Tyendinaga Township residents have a further 10 day period to reply to the CWS arguments.If leave to appeal is granted, then the matter will proceed to an appeal hearing before the Supreme Court of Canada.- 30 -For further information, please contact:Patrick Schindler 416-410-0809 Richard Lindgren 613-385-1686