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Saskatchewan magazine sues to get information on uranium deal with village

REGINA - A Saskatchewan magazine is hoping the courts can accomplish what the province’s privacy commissioner has not been able to do.

Editors from Briarpatch Magazine have been trying to get documents from the northern Village of Pinehouse on agreements it has with uranium mining companies Areva and Cameco (TSX:CCO).

Pinehouse Mayor Mike Natomagan is named as the defendant on the statement of claim filed Tuesday in Court of Queen's Bench in Regina.

The non-profit magazine filed a freedom of information request in April 2013, and Saskatchewan privacy commissioner Gary Dickson recommended that Natomagan provide the requested material.

The statement of claim asks for the financial statements of Pinehouse Business North, a subsidiary corporation of the village; documents that show the distribution of year-end surpluses or losses to Pinehouse from its subsidiary; and copies of correspondence between the uranium companies and the subsidiary regarding payments to the village.

Valerie Zink, a plaintiff on the statement of claim and former Briarpatch editor said the village has not complied with the freedom of information request and that's why the magazine has filed the lawsuit.

“Well, ideally, I think we would be seeing action from the province,” she said. “It shouldn’t be the responsibility of private citizens to enforce provincial legislation.”

The 11-year, $200-million agreement was signed in December 2012.

It is available online on the village’s website. But what is posted online does not include the specific information originally asked in the freedom of information request.

Dickson recommended the plaintiffs take their case to court if Natomagan did not comply.

“It’s actually happened very seldom — surprisingly rare that the Court of Queen’s Bench is involved in these. In fact, I’ve been here 10 years and three months and there are only two cases I can think of in that whole time which have resulted in applications to the Court of Queen’s Bench,” said Dickson.

Dickson says people may be deterred because of the financial burden caused by taking a case to court.

Natomagan could not be reached for comment. He has 20 days to file a statement of defence in the case.


The Canadian Press

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