Court spares Nunavut government from NTI lawsuit
The Nunavut government will not be named as a co-defendant in Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.'s $1-billion lawsuit against the federal government.
In a written decision released Friday by the Nunavut Court of Justice, Judge Earl Johnson dismissed Ottawa's bid to add the territorial government as a co-defendant in the Inuit land-claim organization's lawsuit.
Had that bid succeeded, Nunavut Tunngavik would have had to sue the territorial government as well as the federal government in its breach-of-contract lawsuit.
That was something both NTI officials and Premier Paul Okalik said they didn't want. In January, Okalik told reporters that his government agrees with NTI's reasons for suing the federal government.
"We hope that we can move on the file a little more now, to the court case, and things can proceed," Nunavut Tunngavik president Paul Kaludjak told CBC News on Monday.
"This will be out of the way now and we can … proceed with other matters that we're dealing with in the lawsuit."
Nunavut Tunngavik's statement of claim, filed in 2006, says that Ottawa has failed to implement the historic 1993 Inuit land claims agreement that created Nunavut in 1999.
In a motion filed in September 2007, federal lawyers argued that fulfilling that agreement is a shared responsibility between Ottawa and the Nunavut government.
But in his decision, Johnson wrote that the territorial government was not a party to the 1993 land claims agreement.
He wrote that any concerns about the impact of the lawsuit on the territorial government could be better addressed by adding it as a third party to the suit, rather than trying to make it a co-defendant.
Johnson also ordered the federal government to pay the Nunavut government's legal costs.
Ottawa has 20 days to file notice if it wishes to add the territorial government as a third party to the lawsuit.
NTI's lawsuit accuses Ottawa of 16 breaches of the land-claims agreement, including the failure to help offer Inuit training for government employment and inadequate funding for territorial organizations such as its planning commission and water board.