We’ve struck a deal with Canada to end lawsuit, Nunavut land claim org says
Tentative implementation settlement awaits approval from NTI, GN, Canada
(Updated 5:10 p.m., March 9)
Negotiators representing Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. and Canada have reached what they describe as a “tentative agreement” that would settle a massive lawsuit that NTI filed in December 2006, NTI said March 9 in a news release.
“Details of the settlement will be disclosed once the agreement has been considered and approved by NTI, the Government of Canada and the Government of Nunavut,” NTI said.
The lawsuit, which alleged Ottawa committed numerous breaches of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement and sought about $1 billion in compensation, was to have gone to trial March 9 at the Nunavut Court of Justice in Iqaluit.
That process, however, has been adjourned, likely until around April 20, a source familiar with the case told Nunatsiaq News last week.
And at a mid-afternoon court appearance in Iqaluit March 9, Dougald Brown, a lawyer representing NTI, said all sides have agreed to adjourn until after the out-of-court settlement is approved.
“In the circumstances, I believe all counsel are agreed that the trial should be adjourned… pending approval and signing by the parties,” Brown said during a teleconference call among lawyers and Justice Earl Johnson, the judge who would have presided over the trial.
“The approval process on the government side could take a few weeks, and in order to keep the court aware of the status of the case, I would suggest the court set a teleconference date in the third week of April… we may not need it. We can complete the settlement before then, but if not, we have something scheduled to keep you apprised of where we’re at,” Brown said.
Brown also said that after the parties approve the negotiated settlement, NTI would go back to court to file documentation that would terminate proceedings.
The lawsuit has its roots in a dispute that dates back to the early years of the last decade, when negotiators for Canada and NTI failed to reach agreement on a new implementation contract for the NLCA.
The last implementation contract expired in 2003 and was never renewed, due to intractable disputes over the implementation of Article 23 and other sections of the land claims agreement.
Most of those disputes began when the Liberal governments held power in Ottawa, under former prime ministers Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin.
In those failed talks, NTI demanded more money from Ottawa to pay for the training and education of Inuit under Article 23, the section of the NLCA that requires that governments operating in the Nunavut settlement area provide affirmative action programs for Inuit job seekers until the proportion of Inuit in the public service equals their proportion of the population.
In May 2005, Paul Martin’s Liberal government appointed the renowned jurist and aboriginal rights expert, Thomas Berger, to act as a conciliator.
Parts of Berger’s interim report recommendations on funding for institutions of public government appear to have been carried out.
But Berger’s final report, which focused almost exclusively on Article 23, failed to break the impasse.
The GN was added to the case as a third party in 2009.
With files from Thomas Rohner