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TREATIES AND AGREEMENTS - Practice and procedure - Settlements

Tuesday, November 14, 2017 @ 7:59 AM  

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Appeal by the plaintiff, the Sturgeon Lake Indian Band from a case management order striking and summarily dismissing substantial portions of its action against the defendants, Canada and Alberta. The plaintiff was a signatory to Treaty 8. In 1990, the plaintiff entered a Treaty Land Entitlement Settlement Agreement settling certain historic reserve land claims related to Treaty 8 advanced in a 1987 action. The settlement involved releases signed in favour of the defendants. The plaintiff received $6.1 million in cash and 16,207 acres of land. The settlement was reflected in a consent order. In 1997, the plaintiff commenced new litigation against the defendants following legislative changes to determining its population base. The defendants took the position that the action was an attempt to re-litigate claims released under the 1990 settlement. The case management judge agreed that the new action's claims were duplicitous of those settled. The judge struck or summarily dismissed substantial portions of the plaintiff's claim, finding that those portions were not capable of being saved by amendment. The plaintiff appealed.

HELD: Appeal dismissed. The case management judge's approach to the defendants' application disclosed no reviewable error. The extensive record permitted summary disposition of the issues. The test for summary judgment was correctly stated. None of the affidavit evidence was relied upon inappropriately, nor were findings or inferences made based on evidence that was not properly admissible. The case management judge was justified in striking or summarily dismissing large parts of the claim as an attempt to re-litigate issues that were previously settled and released. The wording of the release covered any claim arising from use of a different population base or formula to calculate reserve lands. No reviewable error with respect to the interpretation or application of the settlement, and in particular, the releases, was established. Similarly, no reviewable error was established with respect to the decision to strike claims arising from any right to land in severalty. The negotiation and execution of the settlement did not involve any breach of duty by Canada or Alberta, and the plaintiff failed to demonstrate it was not enforceable according to its terms.

Sturgeon Lake Indian Band v. Canada (Attorney General), [2017] A.J. No. 1161, Alberta Court of Appeal, P.T. Costigan, F.F. Slatter and B.L. Veldhuis JJ.A., November 6, 2017. Digest No. TLD-November132017003