April 09, 2019
Canadian Lawyer has written a piece on the importance of precision in contract drafting, relating to Resolute FP Canada Inc. et al. v. Ontario.
The article focuses on contract drafting in the context of mercury poisoning of a northwestern Ontario river system and the Ontario government’s actions to remedy the environmental damage and health implications affecting the Grassy Narrows First Nation and Wabaseemoong Independent Nations.
A Torys team made up of partner Andrew Bernstein, senior associate Jeremy Opolsky and associate Jonathon Silver is representing the appellate in the case. The article quotes their factum which suggests "the issues before the court are not actually complex.”
“In 1979 and again in 1985, the province of Ontario gave indemnities to Great Lakes Forest Products Limited. It gave those indemnities to persuade Great Lakes to buy and invest $200 million in a pulp and paper mill, to settle environmental litigation with First Nations bands and to save the economy of Dryden, a single industry town. . . . [B]ut in 2011, when environmental liabilities arose from the buried mercury, Ontario sought to renege from its bargain,” it reads.
The SCC heard the case on March 28 but judgment is currently reserved. Therefore, the dispute over the meaning of the agreement to end litigation around the mercury poisoning and to upkeep pulp and paper operations at the Dryden plant remains unresolved.
For more insight from our litigation team, see the relevant practice page.