A Manitoba judge has dismissed ahuge land claim by the Manitoba Métis Federation that could have been worth billions of dollars.

Justice Alan MacInnes rejected the federation's claims that their ancestors had a treaty with Ottawa in 1870 over a 566,000-hectare stretch of land in the Red River Valley that includes most of modern-day Winnipeg.

In a written decision, MacInnes said the case involved an act of Parliament— not a treaty or agreement— and too much time had passed between the signing of the act and the lawsuit, which was filed in Manitoba'sCourt of Queen's Bench in 1981.

The legal dispute focused on how Métis land ended up being transferred back to the government or to private landowners. The federation claimed the land was stolen by the federal and provincial governments and crooked land speculators.

The governments of Manitoba and Canada denied the charges, saying the land transfers, although unfortunate, did not breach the Manitoba Act.

The suitsought monetary compensation.

MacInnes tookmore than a year to deliver his ruling after a lengthy trial, which began 16 months ago, when he was a senior judge in the Court of Queen's Bench. He has since been named to the Court of Appeal.

The Métis federation is expected to appeal the decision.