Nunavik businessman seeks damages from municipality for “unfair” competition

Court dismisses temporary injunction; case to be heard again this fall

The Northern Village of Kuujjuaq’s main offices, pictured last fall. A Nunavik businessman is seeking damages from the NVK for what he argues are unfair contracting practices. (Photo by Sarah Rogers)

By Sarah Rogers

A Nunavik business owner has filed a lawsuit against the Northern Village of Kuujjuaq in an effort to stop the municipal government from providing contract services to third parties in competition with his local business.

In August 2018, Jobie Peters filed the application to have the Northern Village cease doing snow removal, selling gravel and leasing machinery to third parties, including the Kativik Regional Government and Makivik Corp.

Peters argues the Northern Village is using its own heavy equipment and employees to perform private contracts in Kuujjuaq, creating illegal and unfair competition for other private businesses, like his.

Peters operates a heavy machinery business in Kuujjuaq, J. Peters Garage Inc., which includes dump trucks and loaders, as well as a snow removal service.

The lawsuit also alleges that the Kativik Regional Government is not permitted to give construction contracts to the Northern Village, as is currently the case.

He seeks $3 million in damages.

But a Quebec Superior Court judge has dismissed Peters’ application for an interlocutory, or temporary, injunction for now—a court order that would have prevented the Northern Village from providing some of those services pending a final judgment in the case.

The Northern Village of Kuujjuaq does indeed perform work for the KRG, as outlined in the action, including the construction and paving of streets, crushing gravel, digging wells for water supply, sediment dredging at marine facilities and clearing snow from KRG property.

The judgment, issued this past March, notes section 18 of the Northern Village Act, which says that municipalities have the right to rent property so long as they are not acquiring equipment for the purpose of renting it out.

“In the present case, there is nothing in the proceedings or evidence to support a finding of any breach by NVK in leasing its heavy machinery to third parties,” noted judge Isabelle Bréton.

For its part, the Northern Village argued that acting as a service operator is simply a part of leasing that machinery, but there, the court disagreed.

There is no provision in the Northern Villages Act that gives it the power to use its employees to perform private work for the benefit of third parties, for non-municipal purposes.

“In the circumstances, the court is of the view that, as the plaintiffs argue, these are service or business contracts rather than the leasing of property,” Breton wrote.

“The court is of the opinion that there is an appearance of right… since there is a contravention of Northern Villages Act which by its nature is of public interest.”

The appearance of right, or law, is one of three criteria the judge was looking to prove in order to issue the interlocutory, or temporary, injunction.

But Breton did not find the application met the other two: that the plaintiff would suffer irreparable harm or that the community would be inconvenienced in the interim. The court dismissed the injunction.

Still, Peters’ lawyer said the decision bodes well for the case, as she returns to court to argue for a permanent injunction.

“[The judge] did consider that we were right in law,” said Montreal-based lawyer Maryse Lapointe.

“It’s a difficult burden of proof. We did try it, but still this puts us in a good position.”

The parties are expected to set a new hearing date sometime in the fall. Lapointe said they have requested to have the action heard in Kuujjuaq.

You can read an unofficial English version of the original injunction here, and the latest judgement in French here and in English (unofficial translation) here.

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(6) Comments:

  1. Posted by Lazarusie epoo on

    If theyre not for the people with little opportunity in the north, do they deserve to do business here? Keeping us oppressed on our homelands?

    Way to go, qataq. Stick it to the man. The town sees whos doing the job so call on ur witnesses.

  2. Posted by Nunavimmiuq on

    I support my qatak!

    Why did NV over lapped local business promoter?!

    He followed Nayumivik Landholding rules, local Government rules (KRG) doesn’t NV have their own Municipal projects? roads and Municipal services?

    The local business man Jobie Peters is well known since last 20 years or more running his business and never fails. He is well organized and managing his employees.

    Let’s support Jobie, go Jobie go!

  3. Posted by beneficiary on

    So, KRG has money to spend paving roads…..why only in Kuujjuaq..while smaller communities are suffering with really bad road conditions which lead to vehicle damages. Kuujjuaq is alive because of all the other communities. Kuujjuaq needs all the smaller communities to further develop along with all the involved communities. Which is never the case.

      • Posted by Nunavimmiuq on

        Kutarkiasiit, appropriate way to pronounce your big town is “Kuujjuamiuq”

        Kuujjuamiunguqatirkai not Kuujjuamiuqatikai.

        Yes, once we are strict enough to commit our work and show up daily, we can grow together, respect each others, everyone should take respectful work environments, welcome and greet callers, respect their values, don’t be so mean to each others at work and so on, or don’t bring your home attitude to working environment. Look after our community.

        Everything is possible if you avoid negativity, and toxic postings and comments, bringing war against each others will not solve your minds, keep the circle strong, teach our children, education is the key to achieve many economics in our communities.

        Atii gunnaturituaruvit kajusigit.
        If you think you can do it, continue what you’re doing

  4. Posted by Nunavimmiuq on

    big city 🙂 hehe, not, it’s just a big town.

    yeah, but, small communities, sometimes are hard to reach workers, when a big case are in discussions, quite a numbers of times BOD’s, Councillors, are hard to reach due to lack of punctual workers, sometimes some offices are not answering, when Kuujjuaq workers are at work 9 to 5, 7:00 am to 6:00 pm, 7:30 to 5:00 pm, 8:00 to 5:00 and so on.

    When a heavy equipment operator, municipal service workers shows up to work 15 minutes before their actual work hours due to daily inspections of water truck, sewage truck and garbage trucks, HEO trucks.

    – Does your Mayors, Secretary Treasurers, Municipal Managers do even request road pavement requests?
    – Funding requests?

    Keep digging possibilities, your community can grow in no time if punctual workers are committing their hours.

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