On December 16, 2013, the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench
granted a long-term Order to Penn West Petroleum Ltd. prohibiting
several members of the Lubicon Lake Cree from continuing to
blockade a permitted access road in the Sawn and Haig Lake areas of
Northern Alberta. The blockade had been erected on November
26, 2013, by members of the Lubicon Lake Cree who claim to be
affiliated with the former Chief of the Lubicon Lake Nation,
The Court relied on its authority under the Public Lands
Act, RSA 2000, c P-40 to make the Order. The
Act grants the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench with
broad discretionary power to make a short-term (seven days) or
long-term (exceeding seven days but less than one year)
order to prohibit any activity that constitutes a contravention of
the Act and to authorize the police to remove or seize any
material, barrier, equipment, vehicle, structure or obstruction
used in the contravention.
The Court was satisfied that Penn West had established that
several members of the Lubicon Lake Cree had been blockading the
access road contrary to the Act, and granted a long-term
Order prohibiting the blockade and authorizing the police to remove
the blockade and to arrest any person acting in contravention of
the Order. While initially Penn West's application sought
a short-term Order, Hall J. was satisfied that sufficient notice
had been provided to the respondents for the purposes of making a
In reasons delivered in relation to the Order, the Court
referred to the Supreme Court of Canada's decision in Behn
v Moulton Contracting Ltd., 2013 SCC 26 (summarized in an
here), and cited the passage where the Court indicated that
condoning self-help remedies may be seen as bringing the
administration of justice into disrepute.
The Order is in force until June 14, 2014. On January 3,
2014, the defendants appealed the Order to the Court of
Appeal. The appeal has yet to be heard.
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Russell v. Township of Georgian Bay provides a useful reminder of the fact that while municipal officials sometimes appear to hold all of the cards in disputes with home owners, that is not always the case.
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