New Brunswick

Appeal court rejects Jackie Vautour's latest challenge of Kouchibouguac park creation

New Brunswick's Court of Appeal has dismissed an appeal by Jackie Vautour, the latest rejection in a decades-long attempt to challenge the creation of Kouchibouguac National Park.

Decision agrees with lower court that case was abuse of process by trying to re-litigate issue

New Brunswick's Court of Appeal has dismissed a case by Jackie Vautour that is the latest in a string of legal challenges to the creation of Kouchibouguac National Park. (Shane Magee/CBC file photo)

New Brunswick's Court of Appeal has dismissed an appeal by Jackie Vautour, the latest rejection in a decades-long attempt to challenge the creation of Kouchibouguac National Park.

In 2017, Vautour filed a lawsuit saying he represents more than 100 people claiming to be Metis Acadian Mi'kmaq seeking rights and title to the park area under the Canadian constitution.

The federal and provincial government argued the case was an attempt to re-litigate something decided by courts as high as the Supreme Court of Canada already.

The Court of Queen's Bench agreed and dismissed the case last year. That prompted Vautour to appeal. The case was heard by a three-judge panel in October. 

The decision written by Justice Lucie LaVigne issued Thursday agreed with the federal and provincial governments, concluding Vautour's case was an abuse of process. 

"It is plain and obvious that a matter that attempts to re-litigate that which has been conclusively determined in all levels of court, after a fulsome trial, does not disclose a reasonable cause of action," LaVigne wrote.

LaVigne said the lower court judge had made no errors of law that would cause the court to overturn the ruling. 

It's a decision that has disappointed lawyer Michael Swinwood, who represented Vautour. 

"It's not very encouraging, not one that we're happy with whatsoever," Swinwood said of the ruling. 

He expects to meet with his clients Sunday to discuss the outcome. 

"I'm going to be recommending the Supreme Court of Canada," Swinwood said. 

Lawyer Michael Swinwood represented Vautour in the case and says he will recommend seeking leave to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of Canada. (Shane Magee/CBC)

Swinwood said the Court of Appeal dismissed the case without hearing evidence and believes they should be able to present that evidence.

"They're saying in the case these issues were settled and we're saying, no, they weren't settled, they weren't put before the court," Swinwood said. 

Vautour led a series of legal battles related to the creation of the park in eastern New Brunswick along the Northumberland Strait. Between 1969-71, the province expropriated land from residents and transferred it to the federal government for the park. 

The decision notes that prior civil proceedings decided the lawfulness of the expropriation. Criminal charges against Vautour for fishing in the park led to a decision that there is no historic rights-bearing Métis community in New Brunswick generally and in the area of the park specifically.

That decision meant he didn't have a constitutionally protected right to fish for food in the park.

Vautour was ordered to pay the province $5,000 for costs related to the case. 

The provincial government declined to comment on the decision. 

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