Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavut June 28, 2012 - 10:50 am

Nunavut Inuit org wins 14.8M judgment on general monitoring plan

Nunavut court upholds NTI lawsuit allegation


(Updated June 28, 1:20 p.m.)

Justice Earl Johnson of the Nunavut Court of Justice ruled June 27 that the federal government is in breach of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement by failing to develop a general monitoring plan as required by Article 12 of the agreement.

“I am satisfied that Canada’s failure to implement an important article of the land claims over 15 years undermined the confidence of aboriginal people and in the Inuit in particular, in the important public value behind Canadian land claims agreements,” Johnson said in his judgment.

And in his complex, 113-page ruling, Johnson said it would be “manifestly unjust” to allow the Crown to benefit financially from its failure to implement the general monitoring plan obligation.

Johnson, based on figures supplied in 2010, calculated that Ottawa saved $14.8 million when it failed to develop such a plan

And his judgment reveals the federal government did not make adequate funding available for a general monitoring plan until April of 2010.

Because of this, the Nunavut general monitoring plan was not up and running until July of 2010.

“The court’s decision shows that it is bad law for the federal government to fail to implement the NLCA properly, and that such failure works against building a genuine and constructive partnership with Inuit and all other land claims parties,” an NTI background document reads.

The general monitoring plan is intended to collect data related to the health of the “ecosystemic and socio-economic environment in the Nunavut Settlement Area,” Article 12.7.6 of the land claim agreement states.

This requirement was supposed to be carried out by government in co-operation with the Nunavut Planning Commission.

“NTI is very happy with the decision. The amount of damages, $14.8 million, clearly illustrates to all Canadians and the federal government that ignoring duties and obligations under the NLCA is a very poor choice,” acting president James Eetoolook said.

NTI’s complaint about the general monitoring plan is one of many allegations contained in a lawsuit they filed in December 2006 seeking compensation for the federal government’s alleged failure to implement the land claims agreement.

“The decision involves only one breach of the NLCA and one part of the lawsuit. There are many more breaches, including Inuit employment (Article 23) and government contracting (Article 24), that will go before the courts when the lawsuit goes to trial in 2013,” NTI said.

In 2004, NTI petitioned Sheila Fraser, then the Auditor General of Canada, on the issue, setting out in detail the basis of their complaint.

A trial on the main NTI versus Canada lawsuit would likely be scheduled sometime in the first half of 2014, Johnson said. In it, NTI claims $1 billion in damage payments from the federal government.

(More to follow)

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