The Supreme Court of Canada ruled Friday that Ontario's government has the right to allow commercial logging on a tract of First Nations' traditional land.
A defeat for the Grassy Narrows First Nation, the 7-0 decision means the province does not need Federal permission to take up treaty land for forestry and mining. That bodes well for companies such as Goldcorp Inc. (TSX:G) (NYSE:GG), which operates Canada's largest gold mine in the same region as the land in the logging dispute.
Resource firms had closely monitored the case in the wake of the court's game-changing ruling in June that recognized the claim of British Columbia's Tsilhqot’in Nation to aboriginal title. A crucial difference is that B.C. had no treaty with the Tsilhqot’in, whereas Ontario did have one with Grassy Narrows.
But Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin wrote in the decision that "Ontario’s power to take up lands under Treaty 3 is not unconditional."
In a statement, the Assembly of First Nations expressed its disappointment with the decision.
"We are dismayed that the Supreme Court failed to recognize the First Nations' understanding of Treaty 3 including First Nations' jurisdiction over this territory," Perry Bellegarde, who holds the treaty portfolio for the AFN, was quoted as saying.