Supreme Court Recognizes Ontario Logging Rights on Treaty Land

Canada’s Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s ruling that Ontario has the right to issue logging permits on land governed by an 1873 treaty.

The Grassy Narrows First Nation, a community of about 1,400 people whose descendants signed the treaty with the Canadian government, disputes Ontario’s right to permit industrial logging on the territory, about 180 miles east of Winnipeg, Manitoba. The challenge arose when Ontario granted Abitibi-Consolidated Inc., now known as Resolute Forest Products Inc., a logging license in 1997.

A victory for the aboriginal group might have limited Ontario’s ability to develop resources in large parts of northwestern Ontario without federal government intervention. Goldcorp Inc., the world’s largest gold producer by market value, had intervener status in the case.

The aboriginal group had claimed only the federal government has the right to “take up” land for resource development. The Supreme Court disagreed, ruling the constitution gives Ontario exclusive authority to take up provincial lands for resource development.

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