NTI says they’re disappointed by Ottawa’s appeal on monitoring plan judgment

“The Government of Canada continues to spend its resources on fighting NTI in court”


(updated at 3:00 p.m.)

Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. President Cathy Towtongie says she’s disappointed in the Government of Canada.

The federal government has appealed a ruling issued earlier this summer that found Ottawa failed to implement part of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement.

Justice Earl Johnson of the Nunavut Court of Justice ruled June 27 that the federal government was in breach of the NLCA 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.

In his 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.

NTI’s legal counsel received the notice of appeal of that judgment last week.

“This is very disappointing,” Towtongie said in an Aug. 22 news release. “Despite losing one previous appeal and four legal motions to NTI related to the NTI lawsuit, the Government of Canada continues to spend its resources on fighting NTI in court rather than focusing on fulfilling promises it made years ago in exchange for Inuit surrendering Aboriginal title in the Arctic.”

“Instead of wasting money and time in appealing these decisions, let them do their part in implementing their agreement,” Towtongie told Nunatsiaq News.

In the notice of appeal submitted by the Department of Justice, the federal government said the court erred in finding it responsible for the development and implementation of the Nunavut General Monitoring Plan.

The judgment was also wrong about the calculation of damages for the plan, said the appeal, noting “expectation damages for the development and implementation of NGMP could not be proven.”

Towtongie disagrees. She said NTI’s lawyers demonstrated that the federal government has not implemented the NGMP.

“The fact remains, the Government of Canada has signed these land claims agreements, with Inuit and other aboriginal groups. Once the signing is over, it’s like there’s no mechanism within the government of Canada for the actual implementation,” Towtongie said.

“We have documents in place to prove what has not been happening. We have financial statements to prove that not implementing Article 24 — it’s costing the Government of Nunavut and Government of Canada more dollars keeping Inuit untrained, uneducated, and unemployed, and by flying in workers,” she said.

Johnson’s judgment involved only one part of the lawsuit. Other parts of the lawsuit regarding Inuit employment (Article 23) and government contracting (Article 24), continue to move forward, NTI said.

After the June ruling, Towtongie said NTI received congratulations from many aboriginal organizations across the country.

“I wish to thank these organizations for their support and solidarity. It is unfortunate that many aboriginal peoples have to go through the same path of frustration, non-implementation and litigation in order to get the federal government to honour basic contractual obligations,” she said.

Towtongie said NTI will continue to “confidently proceed with the lawsuit and the appeal.”

with files from David Murphy

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