Published on February 22, 2013
Brad Cabana sits in Supreme Court Thursday. He is representing himself in a legal action dealing with the provincial government and the Muskrat Falls project. — Photo by Gary Hebbard/The Telegram
Brad Cabana held a brief media availability on the courthouse steps in St. John’s today while court officials scrambled to assemble the legal documents needed for him to argue that Justice Gillian Butler should recuse herself from the case.
Butler ruled against Cabana several times on Thursday, including one instance where she essentially threw out one of the main planks of his legal argument, because he had not filed proper legal notice to the federal government.
Cabana said he believes those rulings were biased against him.
He also said at the end of this case, Butler could opt to award financial damages against him for the other lawyers' legal costs. If that happens, he said, it could hurt him enough financially that he couldn't continue in the lawsuit against Williams.
The proceedings are scheduled to continue for the rest of today, and will likely continue on Monday and Tuesday.
It was another tumultuous day from the get-go at Brad Cabana's constitutional challenge of the Muskrat Falls project in Newfoundland Supreme Court in St. John’s.
Cabana started the day by asking Justice Gillian Butler to remove herself from the case because she is married to David MacKay, a senior partner at the law firm that is representing former premier Danny Williams in a separate lawsuit against Cabana.
"It comes as a complete surprise to me," Butler said, before she called a recess.
Cabana is representing himself in a legal challenge saying the government is violating the constitution on certain aspects of the Muskrat Falls project.
Blogger and failed politician Brad Cabana got his day in court Thursday in his quest to shut down the Muskrat Falls project — and he’ll get another day in court today, too.
Cabana is arguing that certain aspects of the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric development violate his constitutional rights; he spent Thursday afternoon cross-examining Newfoundland government assistant deputy minister Aubrey Gover, trying to get answers to support his case.
Cabana ran for both the Progressive Conservative party and Liberal party leaderships in 2011, and eventually ran as a candidate for the Liberals in the 2011 election — he garnered 344 votes and failed to win the seat against Progressive Conservative Ross Wiseman.
Cabana is representing himself in court, and at times he appeared to be struggling; judge Gillian Butler shut down one of his main lines of argument on the grounds that he failed to file proper legal notice to the federal government that he was planning on challenging the constitutionality of a piece of legislation.
Butler at times seemed to not understand the thrust of Cabana’s arguments, and following one question about the genesis of the New Dawn land claim agreement, she asked him, “Where are you going with that?”
The core of the case seems to come down to whether the provincial government provided a referendum on Muskrat Falls to the people of the Innu Nation, but failed to give everyone else in the province a similar chance to vote on the project.
Gover told Cabana during cross examination that’s not what the vote was about.
He explained that aboriginal rights are expressed collectively, and it was up to the Innu community to decide whether to support the New Dawn land claim agreement, including the components that involve Muskrat Falls.
Gover said the government didn’t organize the vote, and didn’t have any input on the ratification vote question.
“The Innu nation decided they were going to hold a vote. They decided the question,” he said. “They conducted the vote, and they gave the answer that their leaders could sign these agreements in that manner.”
Today in court, Cabana will get a chance to cross-examine Nalcor vice-president Gilbert Bennett. Depending on how long that takes, the case could continue Monday and potentially Tuesday.
At one point during the day, Nalcor lawyer Tom Kendall objected to the whole case, saying Cabana is just using the court system for political grandstanding.
“This court should not be used as Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park,” Kendall said. “We know he disagrees with the project and he has his own personal reasons for that, but that doesn’t mean that he has a legal right to tie up the resources of this court in hearing those grievances.”
This is just one of an array of litigation Cabana is in the middle of. On top of the constitutional challenge, Cabana is suing Premier Kathy Dunderdale and Tourism Minister Terry French for defamation. He’s also being sued, also for defamation, by former premier Danny Williams.
In all of these cases, Cabana is representing himself in court.