Manitoba’s attorney general will ask the Court of Queen’s Bench to shut down a controversial smoke shop in southwest Manitoba — once and for all — and level fines against the individuals responsible for its operation.
In a motion to be heard Oct. 26, Attorney General Andrew Swan will call on the court to find Canupawakpa Chief Frank Brown and Dakota Plains Chief Orville Smoke in contempt of court and ask authorities to take possession of the controversial Dakota Chundee Smoke Shop near Pipestone.
"The Sheriff is directed to take possession of and hold the "Dakota Chundee Smoke Shop" in accordance with the terms of this Order," say court documents obtained by the Sun, which are undated and unsigned. "The Sheriff may execute this Order at any time the Sheriff considers appropriate."
The documents suggest the motion will be filed on the grounds that Brown and Smoke are operating the smoke shop contrary to an injunction ordered by Justice Brenda Keyser on May 30 of this year.
Since it opened last November, enforcement officers with Manitoba Finance and members of the RCMP have conducted five raids at the Chundee shop and confiscated thousands of cut-rate Mohawk cigarettes.
Following each raid, the business has restocked its shelves and reopened.
According to the Manitoba Courts website, the notice of motion was filed in Winnipeg on Oct. 5, and its status remains pending.
A spokesperson for the chief justices and chief judge, who had not seen the contents of the motion, suggested that the documents were likely drafted in anticipation of the outcome of the upcoming court hearing.
"Sometimes it happens that parties will go in with a drafted order and if it turns out that what they’ve drafted takes place, then it can be dealt with right then and there," the spokesperson said.
"If the judge doesn’t make that order, then it’s null and void. It’s just a piece of paper, it’s not an order."
The motion calls for fines of $10,000 each to be levelled against both Brown and Smoke, and a smaller fine of $1,500 against Garth Leon Blacksmith, who was charged under the Tobacco Tax Act during the first raid on the Chundee shop by Manitoba Finance authorities last year.
When reached by the Sun on Wednesday, Brown, who is representing himself in court, was initially under the impression that the judge had already decided to find him in contempt of court and to shut down the smoke shop, after an official hand delivered the documents to him in Canupawakpa on Monday.
"They said they’re going to take away the smoke shop from us next with whatever forces they can use," Frank Brown told the Sun.
"I don’t know what they mean by that, but in there they said peace officers and law enforcers.
"I’m not sure why Garth was fined. Garth is not the manager, it’s Charles (Blacksmith)."
When asked whether he intended to pay any court-ordered fine coming out of the Oct. 26 hearing, Brown said he would not, as the provincial government had yet to produce a document proving it had jurisdiction over the Dakota people.
He also said that the Dakota in charge of operating the smoke shop would not retaliate if authorities attempt to take possession of the property.
"That’s what we want to avoid because we’re following the laws. We’re following the laws we are under. If they handcuff us and beat us, then they can do that, but under what rights are they doing that?
"They’re just making an issue instead of dealing with this issue."
Brown said he has been invited by the federal government to be part of Canada’s War of 1812 commemoration that week, and will not be attending the court hearing.
However, to protest the provincial government "ignoring" Dakota rights, Brown says he will hold a First Nations ride from the community of Reston to the Chundee smoke shop today, starting at 10 a.m.
"There’s other people from Alberta, Saskatchewan and northern Manitoba going to be there. And it’s all about sovereignty and the rules and the laws of sovereignty."
Dakota Plains Chief Orville Smoke could not be reached in time for comment.