Daily Miner and News (Kenora, Ontario)
April 27, 2010 Tuesday
Grassy Narrows trappers' case against Crown, Abitibi concludes
BYLINE: BY MIKE AIKEN, MINER AND NEWS
SECTION: NEWS; Pg. A1
Trappers from Grassy Narrows can only wait now as their lawyer wrapped up legal arguments Friday in Toronto as 75 days of hearings into a trial pitting the trappers against the Crown and AbitibiBowater begin to wind down. Counsel for AbitibiBowater is set to make closing arguments this week, while the federal government's legal team will likely go into next week, according to plaintiff Joe Bill Fobister.
The hearings for the landmark case in Ontario civil court began in October. The original suit was launched more than nine years ago, as practitioners of the traditional Ojibway lifestyle took to the courts in hopes of getting better protection for their treaty rights.
"It feels like he presented a good case, but you never know," said Fobister, during a short interview Monday.
Unfortunately, one of the three original plaintiffs — Willie Keewatin — passed away while the case wound its way through the courts. Andrew Keewatin has joined Fobister, as they push for a resolution.
At issue is the authority of the province to issue logging rights, and representatives for the Crown have already speculated the matter may go to the Supreme Court of Canada, regardless of the lower court's decision. Expert witnesses and historic documents made up 75 days of testimony in the complicated trial that delved into the very roots of Confederation.
Robert Janes of Janes Freedman Kyle in Vancouver represented the trappers from Grassy Narrows. Chris Matthews, a partner in the Toronto office of Fraser Milner Casgrain, is representing Abitibi, while Gary Penner will speak on behalf of the federal government and Michael Stevenson will represent the province. Madame Justice Mary Anne Sanderson was presiding over the Ontario Superior Court case.