Innu Nation, federal and N.L. governments to talk Muskrat Falls issue, ask judge to defer injunction ruling

·2 min read
Innu Nation Grand Chief Etienne Rich, seen here standing outside Supreme Court in St. John's on Sept. 20, The group had put forward a lawsuit calling for an injunction to block the Muskrat Falls mitigation deal reached between Ottawa and Newfoundland and Labrador. (Patrick Butler/Radio-Canada - image credit)
Innu Nation Grand Chief Etienne Rich, seen here standing outside Supreme Court in St. John's on Sept. 20, The group had put forward a lawsuit calling for an injunction to block the Muskrat Falls mitigation deal reached between Ottawa and Newfoundland and Labrador. (Patrick Butler/Radio-Canada - image credit)

A jointly-signed statement between the Innu Nation, the government of Newfoundland and Labrador and the federal government indicates the parties are more interested in talking out the issues that were potentially holding up the finalization of the $5.2-billion agreement-in-principle Muskrat Falls rate mitigation deal.

The Innu Nation was seeking a court injunction that would halt talks to finalize the agreement-in-principle between Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador, signed July 28.

Judge Alexander MacDonald heard arguments from both sides and asked questions during proceedings last week.

A decision on whether to grant that injunction was expected this week.

The Canadian Press/Andrew Vaughan
The Canadian Press/Andrew Vaughan

On Friday, just after 3:15 p.m., the joint statement by the three groups was released.

"The parties have requested the Court defer releasing a decision on the injunction application to provide an opportunity for discussions to take place," it read.

"The parties will not be commenting further at this time."

'This is where we end up'

The Muskrat Falls deal, between the government of Newfoundland and Labrador and its federal counterpart, involves a combination of new money and refinancing arrangements, and promises to reduce the province's cost of financing Muskrat Falls debt. The deal would keep electricity rates from almost doubling when the megaproject's power starts flowing through the grid.

Government officials expected the mitigation deal to be signed by Sept. 30, but the Innu Nation filed its lawsuit asking for an interim injunction to prevent that from happening.

Innu Nation Grand Chief Etienne Rich had previously said the framework of that deal was created without proper consultation.

"When the Newfoundland and Labrador government talks about collaboration ... there is no collaboration, because this is where we end up," he said at the time.

Patrick Butler/Radio-Canada
Patrick Butler/Radio-Canada

Rich also spoke about he personally felt let down by Premier Andrew Furey.

"I thought I had a really good working relationship with the premier of Newfoundland … I told him to give us a heads up if there's any talks about rate mitigation. In front of my face, he said no one had talked, and then six weeks after this is what happened," Rich said.

It's unclear when the discussions may have started and if the Sept. 30 original deadline will be met.

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