Crown asks New Brunswick judge to stay charges against Indigenous lobster fisherman – New Brunswick |


A judge in northern New Brunswick has granted a stay of proceedings in the trial of an Indigenous lobster fisherman who launched a constitutional challenge aimed at asserting Indigenous and treaty rights.

Cody Caplin, a member of the Eel River Bar First Nation, was fishing for lobster in the Bay of Chaleur in September 2018 when he was arrested by federal fisheries officers and later charged with 10 offences, including trapping lobster out of season.

As his trial in Campbellton, N.B., was starting in November of last year, Caplin cited the Peace and Friendship Treaties signed by the Mi’kmaq and the British Crown in the 1700s, which recognize the Indigenous right to hunt and fish for personal subsistence.

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The case was adjourned until Thursday, when a Crown prosecutor told the judge that the federal attorney general had ordered a stay of proceedings because the Crown lawyer handling the case was ill, which had caused too many delays.

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Judge Donald LeBlanc granted the stay, saying federal Attorney General Arif Virani has the right to reopen the case within a year, but LeBlanc said he understood from the Crown that is unlikely to happen.

The Caplin case is similar to others in the Maritimes. The Fisheries Department confirmed in October that 54 Mi’kmaq harvesters were facing fisheries-related charges in Nova Scotia

At the time, about half of them said they were planning their own constitutional challenges, though several have since given up.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 15, 2024.

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