Leader Post

Sask. Court of Appeal/Court of Queens Bench in Regina.Regina Court of Queen’s Bench building. Don Healy / Regina Leader-Post


 The Supreme Court of Canada has sided with the Pasqua First Nation when it comes to jurisdiction.

The First Nation took the province to court over its 2008 Treaty Land Entitlement Agreement.

In June 2015, Pasqua filed a Statement of Claim before the federal court alleging that Canada and Saskatchewan failed to properly implement the TLE settlement promises and to make any Crown lands or minerals available for purchase.

Despite agreeing to language in the settlement agreement that all disputes would be heard at the Federal Court, the province brought a motion to strike the claim and that the Federal Court does not have jurisdiction.

At the time, Chief Matthew Peigan said the province made a motion to have Pasqua’s statement of claim moved from federal court to provincial court, which is a move he opposed. He said it was important to keep the federal government involved in the process because treaties are a federal matter – not a provincial one.

In November 2014, both sides had an opportunity to present their arguments. Two months later a decision was made and the judge sided with the First Nation.

“We argued that, “No, it should be in the federal court because under our TLE agreement, (it) was agreed to by the three parties that any interpretation, or any discrepancies with the agreement should be determined within the federal court,” said Peigan in a previous interview.

However the province appealed the decision and the matter went to the Supreme Court.

In December, a final ruling was made in the case.

The decision has set a precedent that will be followed throughout Canada when it comes to TLE disputes.

Province will fall under the jurisdiction of the Federal Court when it has previously agreed to be subject to Federal Court authority.

The dispute that set off the court battle began in 2012, when Pasqua selected parcels of land, but the sale was rejected by the province.

Peigan had claimed the parcels of land it selected in 2012, which were rejected by the province cost the First Nation an estimated $200 million in potential potash revenue because13 quarters were selected near the KS potash mine near Bethune and the others near the Vale Potash mine.

Peigan had hoped for some financial compensation from the province once the case was settled.

The Supreme Court awarded court costs to PFN.

Now that the case has been settled Pasqua can move ahead with settling Pasqua’s TLE agreement, which was reached in 2008. As part of the agreement the First Nation was given 15 quarters of land that it was to select from Crown lands.