MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Legal battle begins; fFirm files $100M suit over mine blockade

Published by MAC on 2007-07-25

Legal battle begins; fFirm files $100M suit over mine blockade

Lisa Jemison - http://www.thewhig.com

Local News

25th July 2007

Frontenac Ventures Corporation filed a $100-million lawsuit yesterday against the local Algonquin nations and their leaders and are seeking an injunction to remove the protesters blockade from the entrance of a proposed uranium mining site north of Sharbot Lake.

Since June 29, members of the Ardoch and Shabot Obaadjiwan Algonquin Nations have been camped out at the entrance of Frontenac Ventures' site, preventing the company from entering the land on which they have staked claims. Neal Smitheman, the company's lawyer, said the Algonquins' occupation of the land is illegal and "could result in serious economic harm for the company."

The proposed exploration and mining area is on territory which the Algonquin nations say is theirs. They have been involved in negotiations with the provincial and federal government since 1991 over a land claim which covers territory throughout the Ottawa River watershed, including the land staked by Frontenac Ventures.

The lawsuit was filed against both Algonquin nations and their leaders - Ardoch spokesperson Robert Lovelace, Ardoch co-chiefs Paula Sherman and Randy Cota, honorary Ardoch chief Harold Perry and Shabot Obaadjiwan chief Doreen Davis - as well as persons unknown, Smitheman said. At this time, none of non-native landowners in the area who have joined in the protests have been served a lawsuit, he added.

The lawsuit - which charges the Algonquins with interference of economic rights, among other things - estimates that the occupation could cause the company $100 million in economic damages.

The allegations are outlined in the lawsuit, which has not yet been heard in court. It was filed in the Superior Court of Ontario, and will be heard in Kingston on July 30.

Smitheman said he expects a "brief adjournment" at that point in order to provide the Algonquins with time to respond.

"It's returnable July 30 and we'll see where it's at at that point," Smitheman added.

Chris Reid, the Algonquins' lawyer, said the lawsuit "wasn't entirely unexpected."

On Monday, he said, Frontenac's law firm tried to serve the lawsuit directly to the Algonquin chiefs, rather than operating through the lawyer. Reid said he received the lawsuit yesterday and responded hours later to request an adjournment. He said he is not available to be in court on July 30 and they want time to prepare a counter-claim against the company.

Reid said they will also be bringing action against the province.

"We're in this mess because the provincial government refused to meet their obligations to consult," prior to granting Frontenac Ventures mining rights in the area, he said.

He said he also asked for a more realistic schedule, hoping to go to court to have all claims heard in September.

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