In its decision in Peavine Metis Settlement v Whitehead, the Alberta Court of Appeal provided guidance on when a non-party to a proceeding can be granted leave to appeal the outcome of that proceeding.
In this case members of the Gift Lake Metis Settlement were given the opportunity to vote on the merits of bylaws granting membership to two individuals, Lyle Whitehead and Brandon Laboucane. Lester Calaheson, a member of the Gift Lake Metis Settlement, objected to the validity of the voting list, which was also the membership list. Mr. Calaheson contented that there were individuals on the voting list who were not eligible for membership. The members approved the membership applications and bylaws were passed granting membership to Whitehead and Laboucane. Mr. Calaheson appealed to the Metis Settlement Appeal Tribunal asking it to set aside the approval of the membership bylaws. However, the Appeal Tribunal upheld the position adopted by the Gift Lake Metis Settlement as lawful.
Subsequently, three Metis settlements brought a motion for leave to appeal the Metis Settlement Appeal Tribunal’s decision. However, none of the three settlements were parties to the proceedings before the Appeal Tribunal. The issue before the Court of Appeal was whether it had jurisdiction to permit a non-party to the proceedings to file a leave to appeal application.
The Court held that whether a non-party may file a notice of appeal is a question of law. The Court then stated that pursuant to the Judicature Act (RSA 2000, c J 2), it has jurisdiction to “hear and determine…all questions or issues of law.”
The Alberta Court of Appeal stated that an appeal is a statutory right; a person cannot appeal or seek leave to appeal without statutory authorization. The general rule is that only parties to a proceeding may seek leave to appeal. Where a statute confers a right of appeal on a non-party, the general rule is displaced. Additionally, the Court may grant permission to appeal to a non-party if the decision sought to be appealed: orders the non-party to do or refrain from doing something; or directly affects important interests of the non-party; or if the non-party could have been a party in the proceedings below.
In this case, neither the Metis Settlement Act (RSA 2000 c M 14) nor the Alberta Rules of Court (Alta. Reg. 124/2010) provides any specifications on who can seek permission to appeal.
Since there was no statutory provision that granted the applicants the right to seek permission to appeal, the general rule - that only parties can seek permission to appeal - was applicable. The Court found that none of the extraordinary circumstances that cause appeal courts to grant leave to appeal to non-parties were present. As such, the Court of Appeal dismissed the application.