Lawsuit to protect Labrador rivers and fisheries goes to Court

Shunpiking Online has received the following news release from Sierra Legal which we are printing for the information of our readers.


TORONTO (1 November 2006) - The Federal Court of Appeal will hear a case today commenced by Sierra Legal on behalf of the Labrador Metis Nation, the aim of which is to have fish bearing rivers of Newfoundland and Labrador adequately protected from continued construction and operation of the Trans-Labrador Highway.

Construction of the Trans-Labrador Highway has taken place over the past several years. Members of the LMN contend that the design and construction of causeways, combined with bridges and culverts, has resulted in extensive destruction of fish habitat and obstruction of fish bearing rivers and streams.

In order to address LMN concerns, and as a last resort, private prosecutions were brought under the Federal /Fisheries Act /in the fall of 2003 by an LMN member against the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador for allowing the destruction of fish habitat and the blockage of salmon bearing rivers by the building of causeways and bridges between Red Bay and Cartwright on the Paradise and St. Lewis Rivers.

The Attorney General of Canada stepped in and stayed the prosecutions in 2004 with no consultations with LMN members. The LMN argues that the prosecutions should not have been stayed as they are in the public interest and there is sufficient evidence to support them. "Proper management of the Labrador fisheries is integral to the LMN's traditional values," says Chris Montague, President of the LMN. "At the very least, the federal government could have sat down with us and discussed our concerns as to why these rivers are so important to our people.

"Even if the Attorney General wasn't prepared to carry the prosecutions, it could have respected the aboriginal rights of the LMN and let the LMN continue the prosecutions and have its day in Court," said Robert Wright of Sierra Legal, counsel for the LMN.

*For more information, please contact:*

Bert Pomeroy, Communications

Labrador Metis Nation, Happy Valley-Goose Bay

(709) 896-0592

Robert Wright or Justin Duncan, Counsel

Sierra Legal

(416) 368-7533

/*Sierra Legal - Advocates for the Environment - *//*www.sierralegal.org*/

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