Russell walks out on media amid questions about Inuit land claims – by James McLeod (St. John Telegram – March 18, 2015)

“We should have increased dialogue. We should be sitting and talking as opposed to discussing litigation,” Russell said in the House of Assembly Tuesday, responding to a question from Liberal House Leader Andrew Parsons.

Russell reportedly told a Nunatsiavut Government minister, “Go ahead and take us to court, we’re going to win anyway.” In the House of Assembly, Parsons wanted to know whether Russell talked to a lawyer before issuing the challenge.

“You asked them to sue us. Was that based on an opinion, and if not, why would you make that comment?” Parsons asked. Russell said he didn’t talk to anybody in the Department of Justice or the Attorney General, but he said some officials in his department looked at it.

“I would assume that our officials went through all the proper channels,” he said. The crux of the issue is an agreement the government signed dealing with the Voisey’s Bay nickel mine, and the Long Harbour processing plant which is behind schedule.

The government amended the agreement to allow Vale, the mine operator, to ship more nickel ore out of the province in the next few years while the Long Harbour plant is getting up and running.

But the Labrador Inuit government says the provincial government didn’t consult it before doing so.

Nunatsiavut President Sarah Leo said their land claim agreement explicitly says the provincial government is required to consult on matters concerning Voisey’s Bay.

“The language in the agreement isn’t just a guideline, it’s a legislated document. It’s a constitution-connected document,” she said.

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