The Ontario Superior Court of Justice found the defendant Chief Chris Plain of the Chippewa of Sarnia First Nations Band to be in contempt of court, and ordered costs of $16,584.87 to CN Rail, payable forthwith.
This contempt application was first brought in January 2013, and related to protests at the Spur Line near Sarnia in support of the “Idle No More” movement. It was clear that Chief Plain had knowledge of the ex parte order of Mr. Justice Brown made on December 22, 2012. His actions were mitigated by the fact that he subsequently convinced other protestors to abandon the blockade.
CN Rail sought a costs order of $50,000 from Chief Plain, which would be placed in its Aboriginal scholarship program. It was noted that CN Rail had incurred $100,000 in legal costs, and there had been a substantial financial impact on Sarnia’s “chemical valley” as a result of the blockade.
The Court was satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that Chief Plain openly defied the court order. In regards to the appropriate sanction for contempt of court, the Court ordered that Chief Plain pay costs of $16,584.87 to CN Rail. This amount is based upon the offer of costs of $5,000 made by CN Rail in January, plus the substantial indemnity costs of CN Rail for an unsuccessful application by Chief Plain in May seeking extensive disclosure from CN Rail. The latter application was a doomed attempt by Chief Plain at a collateral attack on the injunction.
The Court found CN Rail’s undertaking to pay any collected costs to the Aboriginal scholarship program to be “laudable”, but would not make that a term of the order.