RE: Judge rules against Plants and Animals of Mount Carleton Park

Dear friends and colleagues:

On September 16th, Justice Richard Petrie dismissed our applications for judicial review of the provincial government’s decision to develop a Snowmobile Grooming Hub project at Mount Carleton Provincial Park. We can either file an appeal with the New Brunswick court of appeal or quit. The purpose of this note is to solicit your opinion on how best to proceed from here.

The reason for Justice Petrie’s dismissal of our judicial reviews was that, in his opinion, none of the applicants – Wolastoq Grand Council, Wolastoq Grand Chief Ron Tremblay, or myself – have standing. Standing means the right to be heard by the court.  Justice Petrie said that since the Grand Council and its Grand Chief do not have a delegated authority from one or more of the elected Indian Act chiefs, allegedly being the true Aboriginal rights-holders, on Wolastoq to act on their behalf, , neither had standing. There is no law to substantiate this assertion of no standing, not to mention that the Mascarene Treaty of 1726, which we relied upon in our arguments before the court, contradicts Justice Petrie’s claim. The treaty says that any Indian may seek redress before the Court. Also, because I aligned myself with the Grand Council, an Indigenous body, I was unable to obtain standing to represent the public interest despite being co-founder, and a current Director, of the Friends of Mount Carleton Provincial Park Inc.

Those of you who participated in the Parks Act review process will recall that we had asked for park management plans to be developed for each provincial park prior to any development initiative like the proposed Grooming Hub Project. These management plans were to be based on a zoning plan specific to each park. Park zoning is based on habitat protection. Our new Parks Act reflects this ask. Mt Carleton is the only park with a zoning plan. Mount Carleton Park’s zoning plan has no provisions for the development of a grooming hub and snowmobiling activities as currently envisioned by the Department of Tourism, Heritage and Cultuer. The park’s zoning plan was also not included in the Environmental Impact Assessment for the Grooming Hub Project. The Department, however, was given the green light to go ahead with the Grooming Hub project earlier this summer. We’re alleging in our applications for judicial review that the Parks Act and Environmental Impact Regulations were compromised.  Focusing strictly on standing, all of these core matters were ignored by Justice Petrie. His ruling means the Government now has carte blanche to proceed with the Grooming Hub project unchallenged as the 90-day period during which anyone else could have filed an application for judicial review has long since expired.

Thanks to the public’s generosity, we have already amassed nearly $30,000 ( ) which is enough to pay our lawyer for services rendered thus far, plus the Government’s legal costs. Yes, not only did we lose in our efforts to have the Government follow its own rules and regulations as provided for in the Parks Act and Environmental Assessment regulations, but we’ve also been penalized for bringing this matter to the court’s attention by having to pay the Government’s court costs. I believe this sends the wrong message. That is, if you lose in your court battle to protect nature, not only will you to pay your lawyer, but the Government’s court costs as well.   

Our lawyer has recommended that we appeal Justice Petrie’s decision and is prepared to do all the paper work necessary 100% free of charge. We would still have to pay his fees to argue the matter before the Court of Appeal, though and, should we lose in our appeal, additional court costs to the Government.

So, we either cut our losses and admit defeat or dig in and ask the Court of Appeal to overturn Justice Petrie’s decision so that the plants and animals can have their day in court.  Please let Jean Louis know at on or before September 30th how you think we should proceed.

Jean Louis Deveau

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