Smerek v Areva Resources Canada Inc

The Court of Queen's Bench for Saskatchewan released a decision on September 5, 2014 in Smerek v. Areva Resources Canada Inc, granting the defendants' application to have the claims against them struck in their entirety for disclosing no reasonable cause of action.

The defendants are made up of two uranium mining corporations, the federal and provincial governments, a Saskatchewan-based Métis organization and an alleged representative of this organization, and a Northern Saskatchewan municipality made up predominantly of Métis residents and its mayor. The thirty-nine named plaintiffs in this matter brought an action against these defendants, claiming breaches of international law, treaty rights, the Crown's duty to consult, and the Charter, among other things. Their lawsuit primarily centred around challenging a Collaboration Agreement entered into by the two uranium mining corporation defendants with the Métis organization defendant and the predominately Métis municipality defendant, setting out various allegations of environmental harms the plaintiffs asserted would result from this agreement. The court, however, found that the plaintiffs lacked standing to bring claims in relation to treaty rights and the duty to consult as they had failed to plead any facts to suggest they had been authorized to bring these claims on behalf of a treaty or Aboriginal rights-holding collective. Likewise, the court found that no facts were pleaded by the plaintiffs that alleged real or constructive knowledge of a relevant potential Aboriginal right by the Crown or contemplated conduct by the Crown to infringe any such right so as to give rise to the duty to consult. The Charter claims were dismissed on the basis that only the federal and provincial governments could be liable in such claims and they were not parties to the Collaboration Agreement at issue, and the claims based in international law were struck on the basis that the plaintiffs had failed to plead any domestic statutes implementing the international instruments they relied on. The remaining pleadings were struck due to the lack of adequate pleadings to support the allegations. The court noted that counsel for the plaintiffs had submitted that "the plaintiffs ought to be able to come to court to have a discussion about the matters raised in their claim" and retorted that its forum "is not Speakers' Corner in Hyde Park, London" but rather "the forum to adjudicate legitimate legal issues between litigants". Costs were awarded against the plaintiffs.
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