A bid by a group of First Nations chiefs to stop the provincial government's new forest management plan from being implemented has been dismissed by New Brunswick's highest court.
Chiefs representing 10 First Nations and the Assembly of First Nations Chiefs of New Brunswick were seeking an interim injunction to block the deals, arguing the province failed to consult and accommodate them and breached their treaty rights to hunt, fish and harvest.
However, Justice Margaret Larlee of the New Brunswick Count of Appeal upheld a lower court decision to deny the application for an interim injunction.
Larlee said the application by the chiefs was premature because it's too soon to demonstrate harm.
"It is premature to make a determination about harm that has not occurred; consultation is ongoing and the Intended Respondents have submitted that new harvest levels will not occur until February 2015," stated Larlee in her ruling.
The deal struck between the former Alward government and industrial forest companies with Crown timber rights gives the companies an increase of 20 per cent in the amount of softwood they can harvest from Crown land. Under the new plan, the amount of Crown land that is off limits to industrial forest operations is reduced to 23 per cent from its previous level of 28 per cent.
In dismissing the motion, Larlee ordered the chiefs to pay $1,000 in legal costs of each of the intended respondents, which were the provincial government and Crown licence holders AV Cell Inc., Fornebu Lumber Company Inc., J.D. Irving Ltd., AV Nackawic Inc. and Twin Rivers Paper Company Inc.