Mill River owner testifies he trusted province to clear title with Mi'kmaq

Don McDougall, the owner of the old provincial Mill River properties in western P.E.I., testified at a judicial hearing in P.E.I. Supreme Court Tuesday into Indigenous claims to the land.

'We relied on them'

The province announced the sale of its Mill River properties last January. (CBC)

Don McDougall, the owner of the former provincial Mill River properties in western P.E.I., testified at a judicial review hearing in P.E.I. Supreme Court Tuesday into Indigenous claims to the land.

The province announced the sale of the Mill River golf course, fun park, camp ground and resort to McDougall in January 2017. The two Mi'kmaq First Nations on the Island are challenging the sale.

The Lennox Island and Abegweit First Nations claim the entire province as unceded territory, and the constitution requires meaningful consultation on the sale of Crown land. They say there was no such consultation on the Mill River sale.

McDougall told the court that discussions between the province and the Mi'kmaq concerning land title was a private matter, and "none of his business."

"[We] went ahead with the transaction based on a commitment from the vendor (the province) that they knew that they had clear title," said McDougall.

"We relied on them."

The province maintains it did engage in consultation.

Also taking the stand today was deputy minister of finance Neil Stewart. Stewart testified he wasn't aware of any strength-of-claims analysis being done, nor was he aware of any document containing the name of anyone tasked with consulting with the Mi'kmaq.  

"I would be aware," he told court. Stewart's testimony will continue tomorrow.

The review is expected to last three days.

With files from Tom Steepe