Ottawa given until Christmas to address sex-based discriminatory provisions in the Indian Act

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.

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Appeal court postpones ruling that would have suspended Indian status registrations

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.

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New Indian status registrations in jeopardy

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.

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