“The Public Had Every Reason”

Richard Bell
Eastern Shore Cooperator
August 6, 2020

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… Supreme Court Justice Kevin Coady heard arguments from the applicants’ attorney Jamie Simpson and from Lands and Forestry attorney Jack Townsend on June 29 and issued his opinion today in favour of the applicants.

Coady basically rejected all of the government’s narrow procedural claims. But he also took the occasion to demolish Lands and Forest Minister’s  Iain Rankin’s fundamental claim that everyone outside of his department was incorrect in thinking that Owls Head Provincial Park was a park, and therefore the public was mistaken in the belief that his department could not sell off the land in secret.

In his decision, Coady wrote, “The evidence on this motion clearly establishes that Owls Head was portrayed to the public as a Provincial Park. Government documentation and maps, going back as far as 1978, refer to the area as ‘Owls Head Provincial Park’.…The public had every reason to assume Owls Head was a provincial park and, therefore, attracted protections not available on Crown lands.”

Nor was that the end of Coady’s dismissal of Rankin’s lame defense. There is a five-part test in Nova Scotia law that judges use when considering lawsuits asking for the extension of a missed deadline. One of those tests is whether the applicant had a “reasonable excuse” for the delay in filing. Coady wrote that the applicants “have a reasonable excuse for the delay (i.e. secretive nature of the process).”

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