Brad Cabana’s legal crusade against the Muskrat Falls project suffered a setback last Thursday morning in Supreme Court.
Cabana had asked the court to make an expedited decision and essentially declare continued work on the Muskrat Falls project unconstitutional until the provincial government holds a referendum.
“My rights are being violated,” Cabana told Justice Gillian Butler. “It’s a human dignity issue.”
Butler ultimately denied Cabana’s request, and told him that if he wants to challenge the constitutional legitimacy of the Muskrat Falls project, he’ll have to re-file a regular legal statement of claim and go through the normal process.
Premier Kathy Dunderdale has said the government plans on making a final decision on whether to sanction the Muskrat Falls project by the end of the month, and Cabana argued that “time is of the essence.”
Government lawyers, on the other hand, argued the case intimately involves both government energy corporation Nalcor and the Innu Nation in Labrador, and all of the parties will likely need a month or more to adequately prepare legal arguments on the issue.
“We haven’t had the application for 48 hours yet,” government lawyer Todd Stanley said, explaining that they’ll need time to put their response together.
Hanging over last Thursday’s proceedings was the question of whether Cabana is trying to get the court to wade into the realm of politics and public policy.
He is arguing that because the Innu Nation voted on the New Dawn Agreement - that allowed Muskrat Falls to proceed - under the equality provisions of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the rest of the Newfoundland and Labrador is similarly entitled to vote on the project.
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At one point during the hearing, Cabana provided a lengthy history of the perceived anti-democratic moves the government has made on Muskrat Falls.
Butler suggested to him during the proceedings that the justice system isn’t the appropriate venue for those sorts of issues.
“It may be argued that what you’re addressing is a political issue, not a legal issue,” she said.
There was no date set for a follow-up hearing on the issue; that will depend on when Cabana files his revised statement of claim with the court.
Cabana is also embroiled in a few other legal fights.
He is being sued for defamation by Alderon Iron Ore Corp. and former premier Danny Williams. In turn, he’s suing Tourism Minister Terry French and Dunderdale for defamation.
In all of these legal matters, he’s representing himself.
Cabana is a small business owner who lives on Random Island.
At one time, he tried to run for the leadership of the provincial PC party against Dunderdale when Williams retired from public life.
Later that same year, he ran for the provincial Liberal party leadership.