Monday, November 23, 2009

Salmon farm class-action suit survives a B.C. challenge

It's tough to keep up with all the action on the salmon farm issue, but the proposed class-action suit by the Kwicksutaineuk/Ah-Kwa-Mish First Nation is worth watching.
The First Nation is asserting fishing rights in the Broughton Archipelago. And it's arguing the provincial government is hurting the interests of members by allowing salmon farms, which it says hurt wild salmon stocks.
There is a long way to go before the court approves the class action suit, let alone delivers a judgment on the issue.
But the province lost a preliminary bid to have the suit tossed in a B.C. Supreme Court ruling here.
The judgment notes the supporting materials for the bid to certify a class action include an affadavit from Fred Whoriskey, who will provide evidence for the First Nation.
The name might be familiar. In 2007, the government appointed Bill Smart, the special prosecutor in the Glen Clark case, to act as a special prosecutor on a file involving allegations that sea lice from salmon farms were damaging wild stocks. Smart concluded the farms were likely damaging wild stocks. He recommended against proceeding because it was unclear if their actions were against the law. His key expert was, yes, Fred Whoriskey. You can read more in these two columns from 2007.

By the by, I highly recommended the Recent Judgments section of the B.C. Superior Courts website. Judgments from the B.C. Supreme Court of Appeal are posted almost daily. Browsing them offers a direct view of the justice system - you'll marvel at how much of the courts' time is taken with divorces and insurance claims - and a lot of useful bits of information. (I learned, for example, that a paramedic injured in a crash estimated his continuing income, with overtime, would have been over $100,000 a year.)
You'll also be impressed, I think, with how sensible the judgments are in criminal cases.

1 comment:

Norm Farrell said...

I agree with your recommendation about the Supreme Court judgments. I think they are quite readable, after a little practice and presuming the particular judge can write adequately. Most are pretty good.

After reading cases, I'm much less inclined to knee jerk reactions critical of judges. Most times, there is a predictable precision to their work and it is what truly separates us from tyranny.

I don't much trust any political process but I generally respect the legal one, at the Supreme Court and above.

One other note, I think the SCC recently made some rulings that appear to encourage class action suits. They should be slightly more likely to be certified.