Junior mineral exploration company Northern Superior Resources Inc. (TSXV:SUP) received the Government of Ontario’s Statement of Defence last week in response to the company’s pending $110 million lawsuit against Ontario, for failure to consult with First Nations. The lawsuit, filed in November 2013, is the result of extraordinary circumstances that prevented NSR from accessing its Thorne Lake, Meston Lake and Rapson Bay gold properties in northwestern Ontario.
Ontario’s response acknowledges that beyond sending a standard form letter identifying Sachigo Lake First Nation among others, as a community to be contacted, the government did not undertake any consultation nor did it assist NSR in engaging with the community until after NSR was issued an “eviction” notice by the First Nation. Ontario also admits that NSR did all it could reasonably do to meaningfully engage with SLFN.
Despite these admissions, the Statement of Defence raises the same tired arguments heard previously from Ontario and, significantly, fails to address several key items of NSR’s lawsuit. Ontario’s position will be of interest to the industry in that it is clear that despite the requirements repeatedly laid down by the courts, Ontario will leave companies to fend for themselves, at their expense, when issues arise with Aboriginal communities, whether justified or not.
Ontario’s position in the lawsuit reaffirms that in Ontario, exploration and mining companies who peacefully retreat from areas from which they have been evicted by Aboriginal communities and ensure that the rule of law is upheld will be left to their own devices, while companies who in similar situations risk or bring about civil disobedience and escalate matters will be compensated by the government.
NSR continues to utilize industry best practices in its engagement and consultation efforts and has been recognized by the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business for excellence in this regard. The challenges encountered in this particular case were taken very seriously by NSR and despite our best efforts they were unable to be resolved. NSR is proud of the positive relationships and partnerships we have forged with the Aboriginal communities we continue to work with around our other properties in Ontario and Quebec.
NSR will be delivering a formal reply to Ontario’s defence shortly and looks forward to seeing Ontario’s evidence and documentary support. Below are NSR’s specific points in response to the Statement of Defence.
Specific Response Points to Ontario’s Statement of Defence
1. Ontario’s defence raises nothing new:
2. Ontario’s arguments are interesting news to the industry and contrary to the established facts:
3. Ontario has no answer to the following:
4. Ontario’s other “novel” position – the cost of the obligation to consult with First Nations:
5. Ontario provides yet another “explanation” for the creation of the massive Mining Exclusion Zone:
About Northern Superior Resources Inc.
Northern Superior is a well-funded junior exploration company exploring for gold in the Superior Province of the Canadian Shield, specifically in the Provinces of Quebec and Ontario in the Stull-Wunnumin and Chibougamau-Chapais gold districts. Northern Superior is a reporting issuer in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec, and trades on the TSX Venture Exchange under the symbol SUP.
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