Jeff Green | Sep 20, 2007
Feature Article - September 20, 2007 Feature Article - September 20, 2007
Counter Suit Filed: Ardoch & Shabot Lake Algonguins seek $10 million from Frontenac Ventures, 1.3 Million from Provinceby Jeff GreenLegal counsel for the Ardoch and Shabot Obaadjiwaan First Nations have prepared a statement of defense and counterclaim in response to a $77 million lawsuit filed against them earlier this summer by Frontenac Ventures Corporation.The two communities have occupied the Robertsville mine since June 28, which had been the headquarters for the company as it carried out an exploration program on a 30,000 acre swath of public and private land to determine if there is sufficient uranium underground to pursue a mine. Frontenac Ventures filed a lawsuit in late July, and in August sought and received a temporary injunction from the Kingston Superior Court, ordering the Algonquins to vacate the site.This injunction has not been followed. On September 24th, a formal injunction hearing is set to commence in Kingston.But the two Algonquin communities will not participate in the hearing, arguing that the matter is political in nature and the government of Ontario should intervene.They will, however, contest the lawsuit itself, and in a 20-page statement of defense coming out this week, the two First Nations deny many of the claims made in the Frontenac Ventures suit.In their counter suit, the Algonquins claim that Frontenac Ventures “has breached, intends to or would breach, through its exploration drilling or mining activity, the Aboriginal Title or rights of the defendants, …” and the defendants’ rights “to select unencumbered land in any final agreement of the Algonquin Land Claim.”They are also seeking a “permanent injunction” prohibiting Frontenac Ventures from proceeding with “any exploration, drilling, mining or related activity on or in respect to the FVC mining claim area …” In the cross claim against the government, the two communities are seeking $500,000,000 for “breach of constitutional and aboriginal rights” and an identical amount for “breach of fiduciary duty and breach of the duty to consult”. A further $30,000,000 is being sought for “punitive damages”.Essentially, the Algonquins will be arguing that the Mining Act, which is the legislation that authorized the acceptance of Frontenac Ventures’ claims staking and exploration program in the region, violates Aboriginal rights. They also argue that the province failed to consult with the Algonquin communities prior to accepting the claims by the company, which they should have done in accordance with the Constitution Act of 1982.The Algonquins are also seeking an “interim and permanent injunction” prohibiting the province from issuing any claims or permits under the mining until such time as the Supreme Court validates the “constitutional validity” of the act.