Jackie Vautour attempting to have N.B. clam-digging trial thrown out

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MONCTON, N.B. - Just when it looked like it was about to come to an end, Jackie Vautour's illegal clam-digging trial was derailed.
Provincial court Judge Pierre Arseneault was supposed to deliver his verdict Friday on charges laid 12 years ago.
But it had to be postponed because Vautour has made an application in Court of Queen's Bench to stop the proceedings, claiming provincial court doesn't have the jurisdiction to hear it.
Vautour, 80, was charged with violating the National Parks Act by digging clams out of season in September 1998 in Kouchibouguac National Park. He was convicted, but successfully appealed the case and is now arguing that has Metis heritage and it gives him with an aboriginal right to fish for clams.
His son, Roy Vautour, 53, is charged with similar offences and is also on trial. Both men admit to fishing clams but say they have the right to do so.
Arseneault has heard testimony on and off over the past four years and final arguments were made in November.
Defence lawyer Robert Rideout is attempting to meet the Supreme Court of Canada's criteria to establish his clients have an aboriginal right to fish. To do that, he must prove the Vautours are of Metis descent, there are historic Metis communities in that area with their own cultures, traditions and practices, those communities still exist, and the Vautours are living the Metis lifestyle.
Crown prosecutor Gerald Grant called expert witnesses who testified there is no Metis community in the Maritimes.
Jackie Vautour and the East Coast First People Alliance recently filed a writ of prohibition in Court of Queen's Bench in an attempt to stop the clam-digging trial. Grant said the Crown has made an application to have Vautour's legal action thrown out.
Grant said a hearing will be held in late March on the Crown's motion to have Vautour's action dismissed.
Arseneault scheduled April 12 to return the clam-digging case to court for an update on the status of the other legal action.

Organizations: Queen's, Supreme Court of Canada, East Coast First People Alliance

Geographic location: MONCTON, Kouchibouguac National Park

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