Kusugak v. Northern Transportation Co. et al.

In Admiralty Jurisdiction on (Updated )

In this case the Plaintiffs were the dependants of crew members of the “Avatuq” which sank on 25 August 2002 while en route from Churchill, Manitoba to Arviat, Nunavut. All of the crew members perished. The Defendants included the Commissioner of Nunavut, the Government of Nunavut and some of their employees (the “Nunavut Defendants”). The allegations against the Nunavut Defendants were that they failed to have in place or implement proper procedures in relation to the search and rescue operation. The Nunavut Defendants brought this application to strike the Statement of Claim against them on the grounds that the Federal Court was without jurisdiction. The Plaintiff, on the other hand, argued that the claim was within the maritime jurisdiction of the court. The motions Judge reviewed the applicable authorities, in particular Dreifelds v Burton, (1998) 38 OR (3d) 393, and noted that a matter will only fall to be determined by Canadian Maritime Law if it is sufficiently connected with navigation and shipping. She held that the claims had nothing to do with navigation and shipping and were grounded solely in common law principles of negligence. Accordingly, she concluded that the Court was without jurisdiction. She further held that the Nunavut Defendants were public authorities over whom the Court had no jurisdiction.