The Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador has denied Nunatu-Kavut’s application for an injunction against environmental hearings on the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric development.
According to court documents, NunatuKavut — formerly known as the Labrador Metis Nation — filed the injunction because it believed the federal and provincial governments “breached their duty to consult with NunatuKavut” and asked the court to force the province to negotiate an impact benefits agreement with it, as the province did with the Labrador Innu.
Land claim not yet recognized by province or Ottawa
NunatuKavut wanted environmental assessment panel hearings — currently underway — stopped until the other matters were dealt with.
But neither the province nor Ottawa have recognized NunatuKavut’s land claim — at least not yet.
The province has said if Ottawa does recognize a land claim later, it would have to negotiate a benefits agreement.
NunatuKavut president Chris Montague told The Telegram Friday he had high expectations when the case began.
But he said after the case was passed from one judge, to another to a third, his optimism diminished.
“It began to raise eyebrows when they brought in a judge from Grand Bank to actually hear the case,” Montague said.
Justice Garrett Handrigan was the Grand Bank judge who heard each side’s arguments.
Montague went on to say he doesn’t see the denial of the application as being too disappointing.
“It (makes) our path more clear, I guess, in the sense we know what to expect now from the courts and from Nalcor, from this whole process,” he said. “I think it will help us make some very clear decisions.”
Montague said the next step is to meet with his advisers, staff, board and consultants to plot a course forward.
He said it’s possible he may put the issue to a vote of the NunatuKavut membership.
“We have to gauge how the people are feeling about this project and I think the events here will move the people in a more clear direction,” Montague said.
When asked if NunatuKavut would appeal the decision, he said it would be unlikely as the hearings are ongoing and would likely be over by the time the case went back to court.
“But then again, that’s a decision that has to be made because there’s so many flaws in this judgement,” said Montague.