In an “important precedent,” the Quebec Court of Appeal held that Ottawa and Quebec breached their duty to act honourably after it refused to adequately finance the police department of a First Nation to ensure that its services were equal in quality to those offered to non-Indigenous communities, according to aboriginal law experts.
The ruling, deemed by pundits as a “pretty striking way of reading” Canada’s agreements with First Nations on programs and services, ordered both the federal and the Quebec government to pay the Pekuakamiulnuatsh Takuhikan First Nation, located in Quebec’s Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean region, $1.6 million to cover years of underfunding of its police force. A year ago, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal concluded in Dominique (on behalf of the members of the Pekuakamiulnuatsh First Nation) v. Public Safety Canada, 2022 CHRT 4 that the same First Nation were victims of discrimination due to inadequate police funding, a decision Canada is seeking judicial review.
First Nations that have implemented youth protection legislation under the auspices of the federal Bill C-92 have jurisdiction over youth welfare regardless of place of residence held a provincial court judge in a decision viewed by legal experts as a precedent.
The long-awaited decision, widely regarded by legal pundits as an important stepping stone towards the right to self-government for First Nations, reaffirms the generic right to self-determination, confirms the authority of Aboriginal communities to withdraw children from the care of Quebec youth protection authorities, and highlights the importance of negotiating in good faith.
“This is the first judgment in such a matter, and we hope it will create a precedent,” said Frédéric Boily, a lawyer with Simard Boivin Lemieux in Dobeau-Mistassini in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint Jean region who represented the the Conseil des Atikamekw d’Opitciwan, an intervener in the case. “So another Aboriginal community that wanted to follow in our client’s footsteps would indeed have good moorings on which to build.”
A series of wide-ranging concrete administrative and structural reforms, coupled with a new regional or municipal court, legal aid for all Inuit, and greater inclusion for traditional Inuit dispute resolution methods, should be implemented by the Quebec government and legal authorities to provide greater access to justice and tackle the alarming and increasing caseload in Nunavik, according to a recently published report.
The architecture of the Canadian Constitution has been dramatically altered, with the emergence of a third level of government, after the Quebec Court of Appeal ruled that Indigenous people possess an existing right of self-government that is protected by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, according to legal experts.
The “bold” decision, a reference case brought by the Attorney General of Québec after it challenged the constitutionality of the federal government’s Indigenous child welfare law, marks the first time a self-government right has been clearly recognized by the courts as a right of all Indigenous peoples in Canada, added aboriginal and constitutional legal experts.
“The Court recognized that Indigenous peoples in Canada have a right to self-government over child and family services recognized and affirmed by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982,” said Claire Truesdale, a Vancouver lawyer with JFK Law Corporation who practices Aboriginal, environmental and constitutional law. “This is remarkable.”
In a decision welcomed by criminal lawyers, the Quebec Court of Appeal seems to have opened the door for the principle of proportionality of sentences to be applied to homeless offenders or members of a marginalized group who are non-Aboriginal.
It will take a healthy dose of political will, huge investments and nearly a generation for the Quebec government to implement the wide-ranging recommendations an inquiry that examined treatment of Indigenous people made to the province’s justice and correctional systems, according to legal experts.
In the latest of a growing body of reports examining the plight of Indigenous people in Quebec, retired Quebec Superior Court Justice Jacques Viens concluded after an 18-month examination that “it seems impossible to deny” that members of the First Nations and Inuit are victims of systemic discrimination in accessing public services in Quebec.
The federal government dodged a potential crisis that would have halted Indian status registrations after the Quebec Court of Appeal begrudgingly gave Ottawa until Christmas to address sex-based discriminatory provisions in the Indian Act and complete a bill that has been held up by the Senate.
In a ruling that marks the first time a Canadian appellate court has been called upon to decide whether or not to extend yet again the suspension of a judicial declaration of constitutional invalidity of a legislative provision, the Quebec appeal court scolded the federal government for the “unacceptable delays” and the absence of administrative measures that would have mitigated the discrimination.
The Supreme Court of Canada shed new light on the Crown’s constitutional duty to consult with Aboriginal communities and clarified the role and obligation of decision-making bodies in two separate decisons that has the potential of providing greater predictability for natural resources companies seeking regulatory approval.
The Quebec Court of Appeal granted a safeguard order today that temporarily postpones a court ruling that would have suspended new Indian status registrations as of July 4th.
Quebec Court of Appeal Justice Nicholas Kasirer granted the Attorney General of Canada leave to appeal from a June 27th decision that refused to extend for a second time the suspension of its August 3, 2015 judgment that found that the principal registration provisions of the Indian Act were invalid because it breached s.15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
A suspension on new Indian status registrations could begin new week unless the Quebec Court of Appeal issues a safeguard order that would temporarily suspend a ruling that ordered the federal government to correct discriminatory provisions in the Indian Act that infringe the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Quebec Superior Court Justice Chantal Masse dismissed a motion earlier this week to extend Parliament’s deadline for eliminating sex discrimination from the registration provisions in the Indian Act. Ottawa had already received a couple of extensions.
Federal and provincial governments “need” to demonstrate a “stronger engagement” towards conducting meaningful consultations with indigenous communities, according to a United Nations working group on business and human rights.
The duty to consult takes on added weight given that extensive mining and oil and gas extraction in several indigenous territories is “accompanied” by significant adverse environment impacts that affect the right to health, added the UN panel.