“Does the Premier regret forcing communities to take his decisions to court for a third time?”

Gary Burrill questions Premier Iain Rankin about a pattern of judicial reviews brought forward by citizens

GARY BURRILL: Mr. Speaker, the Premier’s decisions as minister are now in court a third time. This time, it’s the judicial review from last week of his decision to secretly delist Owls Head Provincial Park with a view to selling it to a developer who would turn it into a golf course.

Does the Premier regret forcing communities to take his decisions to court for a third time now?

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Rally in Review

On April 1, 2021, approximately 100 supporters participated in a demonstration outside the Law Courts in solidarity with judicial review applicants Bob Bancroft and Eastern Shore Forest Watch Association.

Mi’kmaw Grandmother Darlene Gilbert (Thunderbird Swooping Down Woman) gave a land acknowledgement. Scheduled speakers at the demonstration included local resident Beverley Isaacs, Lindsay Lee of Eastern Shore Forest Watch Association, Tynette Deveaux of Sierra Club Atlantic, environmental activist Jacob Fillmore, and Facebook group founder Sydnee Lynn McKay. Nina Newington of Extinction Rebellion emceed the demonstration.

Gary Burrill (leader of the NDP Party) addressed the crowd, as did Thomas Trappenberg (leader of the Green Party) and Jessica Alexander (deputy leader of the Green Party). An Eastern Shore resident who has asked to remain nameless also chose to speak in support of Owls Head Provincial Park.

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FRANCIS CAMPBELL: Owls Head fate debated in court, premier defends decision, rally calls to stop the sale

Francis Campbell
The Chronicle Herald
April 1, 2021

Full Article Here>

Inside the courthouse, lawyer Jamie Simpson challenged Iain Rankin’s March 2019 decision, as then minister of lands and forestry, to remove 285 hectares of Crown property at Owls Head from the protected areas plan and to enter into sale negotiations that would support a golf course development instead.

“The minister had a process in place that led to the parks and protected areas plan,” said Simpson, representing the judicial review applicants, Bob Bancroft and the Eastern Shore Forest Watch Association.

“The decision to remove Owls Head from the plan, absent any notice or consultation with the public, was a marked departure from this established practice,” Simpson said. 

Simpson said it seems the minister and the treasury and policy board was bound to a single outcome, “that is to remove the park from the parks and protected areas plan so that the minister could negotiate a sale to a private interest.”

Simpson argued that Rankin and the Lands and Forestry Department never assessed the property for its economic and ecological value, but instead entered into a discussion to sell the four pieces of property in question for a proposed $216,000, a price based on the land being undevelopable.

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House of Assembly: Premier Rankin & NDP Leader Gary Burrill on Owls Head Provincial Park

Question period: THURSDAY, APRIL 1, 2021

GARY BURRILL: Mr. Speaker, today’s judicial review of the Premier’s action when he was the Minister of Lands and Forestry to move Owls Head from the list of parks and protected areas in preparation for a potential sale, is a judicial review that is drawing a lot of public attention. Why wouldn’t it?

Owls Head is one of 153 areas under the 2013 Our Parks and Protected Areas plan which have never officially been designated as protected, so it’s normal and natural for people to have questions and to be concerned now about the other 152.

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Premier Iain Rankin CTV Interview

CTV News Atlantic
February 23, 2021

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Steve Murphy: You are an environmentalist… You portray yourself, certainly, as one. You are under pressure to stop the sale of Owls Head, which had been considered as a park reserve – or at least was on the list for consideration – for use as a golf course now. What action are you going to take on that file, Premier?

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