Labrador Metis Assn. v. Canada (Minister of Fisheries and Oceans)

In Fish Cases, Judicial Review/Crown Liability on (Updated )

This case involved a challenge by the Labrador Metis Association ("LMA") to the Minister of Fisheries for failing to respond to an application to issue it a communal fishing licence. D.F.O. presented evidence that it was concerned that a decision to issue a communal fishing licence could be interpreted my the LMA as recognition by the Government of Canada of the LMA’s aboriginal rights which could have consequences well beyond the issuance of the licence. Accordingly, D.F.O. initially declined the request, based upon evidence received, but indicated it would reconsider such an application in the context of Land claims negations. D.F.O. also indicated that it would consider any evidence presented to it in the context of several ongoing prosecutions which were being defended on the basis of an aboriginal right to fish. After apparently reviewing information received by a specified date, D.F.O. failed to issue a licence.

With respect to the principles of natural justice and procedural fairness, the court concluded that it could not conclude there had been any breach because it was not presented with any evidence of what evidence was presented to the Minister through both the aboriginal land claims process and the prosecution process. Furthermore, the Minister indicated that he was open to reconsider his decision in light of emerging information and advances in the law. Accordingly the application for judicial review was dismissed.

Counsel for the applicant: Bruce Clark and Stuart Gilbey

Counsel for the crown: Geoffey Lester