Canada loses NAFTA court challenge over Nova Scotia quarry project

OTTAWA _ The federal government has lost a court bid to overturn a NAFTA ruling involving a Nova Scotia quarry and marine terminal project.

In a decision released today, the Federal Court of Canada rejects federal arguments that a NAFTA tribunal inappropriately decided questions of Canadian law when it found problems with a review panel process.

U.S. firm Bilcon proposed the expansion at the Whites Point quarry in Digby Neck in September 2002 but the Nova Scotia and federal governments rejected it after a federal-provincial environmental assessment panel recommended it not proceed.

The company filed a NAFTA challenge under Chapter 11, alleging there were irregularities in the federal-provincial process.

After winning the challenge, Bilcon said it would seek at least US$300 million in damages from Canada.

In her decision today, Federal Court Justice Anne Mactavish says the NAFTA tribunal made no errors warranting a reversal of its ruling.