Former political candidate sues premier, seeks court ruling on Muskrat Falls
Brad Cabana sits in Supreme Court Tuesday during a recess. He is representing himself in a flurry of legal actions dealing with the provincial government and the Muskrat Falls project.
— Photo by James McLeod/The Telegram
The man who once tried to run for the leadership of two political parties in a single year now finds himself in the eye of a storm of litigation.
Brad Cabana was in court Tuesday in St. John’s to deal with issues around an ongoing defamation lawsuit filed against him by former premier Danny Williams.
But while he was in court, he filed a few legal applications of his own — namely, a $5-million lawsuit against Tourism Minister Terry French, Premier Kathy Dunderdale and the provincial government and a constitutional challenge trying to get the courts to force a provincewide referendum on the Muskrat Falls project.
Cabana will be back in court Thursday morning for a followup hearing on the constitutional challenge. He is representing himself.
He is essentially arguing that because the Innu Nation got to vote in a referendum related to the Muskrat Falls project, but the whole population has not been given the chance to vote in a referendum, the government is violating the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The Innu Nation vote was not on Muskrat Falls specifically. It was on the New Dawn agreement as a whole, which also encompasses redress for the Upper Churchill development and an agreement-in-principle for self- government as part of a resolution to a land claim.
In his application to the court, Cabana asks the judge to rule “that the continued site work on, and continued development of the Lower Churchill River hydro-electric project by the (government) including expenditure of public funds thereon, without the expressed consent of the people of the province by way of a referendum, constitutes a violation of Section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”
A spokeswoman for the Department of Natural Resources said it wouldn’t comment on a matter before the courts.
Cabana told reporters that he wants to see a wider vote on the Muskrat Falls project.
“I feel that is not something that 2,200 people (of the Innu Nation) should decide alone,” Cabana said. “I think the rest of the province deserves a decision on that as well.”
In a separate statement of claim filed with the court, he also raised comments made by Tourism Minister Terry French on VOCM Backtalk in August 2011 as the basis of a $5-million lawsuit.
The Telegram cannot reprint the allegedly defamatory statements or risk being legally liable.
In his application, Cabana calls the comments French made as “an extreme and severe character assassination, the most grievous defamation possible.”
Reached for comment Tuesday afternoon, French didn’t seem too worried.
“He wanted to be leader of two political parties? Those three little jibes? He should sit in one of these seats for a couple weeks. Those things would be minor. I’ve got worse things in emails ,” he said.
French also scoffed at the fact that Cabana is suing for $5 million.
“I will tell you that if he sued the last 10 generations of Frenches, he wouldn’t get five million bucks,” he said. “He’s going to have to dig up a few of my dead relatives and see what rings they’ve got on.”
Cabana’s forray into the legal world Tuesday had more than a few hiccups, and ultimately, a line of legal argument he was trying to put forward was thrown out by Chief Justice David Orsborn.
The main defamation lawsuit between Cabana, Danny Williams and mining company Alderon Iron Ore Corp. is still going ahead.
Cabana was undaunted representing himself at the centre of all the legal furor.
“The essential facts are the facts, and the judge will decide,” he said. “It’s simple. Whether I put it across in one way or another way, the judge is going to make his mind up on the facts.”