Tsleil-Waututh Nation v. Canada

Justice Larry Whalen of the Specific Claims Tribunal released a decision on November 3, 2014 in Tsleil-Waututh Nation v. Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, granting the Leq'a:mel First Nation ("LFN") intervenor status in Tsleil-Waututh Nation ("TWN")'s specific claim for compensation from Canada in relation to a historic loss.

TWN's claim arises from Canada's historic expropriation of 7.73 acres of TWN reserve lands in 1931 for the purposes of constructing a highway. Canada has admitted the validity of this claim and the sole issue to be determined by the Tribunal is the amount of compensation due to TWN, comprising the base value of the expropriated land in 1931 (at the height of the Great Depression) brought forward to present value. According to Justice Whalen, this will be the first claim in which a determined base amount of compensation is brought forward to current value and therefore it may have a precedent setting effect. LFN applied for intervenor status in order to submit legal and theoretical arguments about bringing forward a historical loss under the Specific Claims Tribunal Act (the "Act"), arguing that it ought to be founded on equitable principles applying compound interest on the full base amount of the loss.

Justice Whalen stated that the Tribunal should apply a generous and flexible approach to granting intervenor status given that the Tribunal was created with both the goals of reconciliation and access to justice in mind, and Justice Whalen stated that his decision on this issue would be guided by Federal Court jurisprudence but not bound by that court's stricter requirements. LFN was granted intervenor status on the basis that it had seven specific claims that were being negotiated with Canada and the Tribunal's decision could have a real impact on how these are negotiated or litigated if they later come before the Tribunal. Justice Whalen was also satisfied that LFN had vast experience and expertise in dealing with the legislative context from which TWN's claim arises. Finally, Justice Whalen concluded that the Tribunal could benefit from LFN's broader perspective on the law of equity and alternatives for interest calculation.

Share this story