Supreme Court of Canada dismisses Nova Scotia's appeal on duty to consult

Northern Pulp Mill

The Supreme Court of Canada has dismissed the province of Nova Scotia's bid to appeal whether it must consult with a Mi'kmaq community on how public money is provided to the Northern Pulp mill's effluent treatment plant.

The court typically doesn't provide reasons, and in a news release issued today says only it has dismissed the appeal with costs.

In November, Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice Timothy Gabriel ruled that if the province becomes a financial backer of the effluent treatment plant, that would raises questions on whether the level of funding would mean "upgraded safeguards" in light of what the people of Pictou Landing First Nation have endured.

Gabriel said if the government consults on environmental aspects of the plant's construction, it should take a "holistic" approach and also consult on the financing it is willing to provide.

He concluded the Crown has a duty to consult with the First Nation, including on the issue of whether funding should be provided at all.

Before launching the appeal of the Nova Scotia court's ruling, Premier Stephen McNeil told reporters that while his government takes the duty to consult seriously, it didn't believe the concept applied in this case.