Landmark Métis court ruling appealed by Harper Government

Métis Association of Ontario

Métis Ontario Press ConferenceOTTAWA – Métis rights court ruling will be appealed. The federal government is appealing a landmark court ruling on Métis rights,  Daniel v. Canada.  John Duncan, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, issued the following statement today regarding Canada’s decision to appeal the January 8, 2013 Federal Court decision in Daniels v. Canada.

Métis Court Ruling being appealed

John Duncan
Minister John Duncan

“The Harper Government continues to work in partnership with Aboriginal organizations and provincial governments to enhance the economic opportunities for Métis and non-status Indians. Our Government must ensure that programs and services to Aboriginal Peoples are fiscally sustainable.

Given that the Federal Court decision in the CAP/Daniels case raises complex legal issues, it is prudent for Canada to obtain a decision from a higher court.  

After careful consideration of the decision, Canada has filed an appeal, and it would be inappropriate to comment further as the case is before the courts.”

There have been 177 court rulings on Aboriginal issues where the government has lost. 

Prof. Magnet who put together the team that won the case has stated, “For 600,000 Non-Status Aboriginal people, Daniels v. Canada is the most important legal development  impacting their lives in the modern era.”

The Métis National Council states, “Judge Phelan has issued a declaration that the federal government has jurisdiction for Métis under s. 91(24) of the Constitution Act, 1867.  That head of power states that the federal government has exclusive legislative authority with respect to “Indians, and Lands reserved for the Indians.”  This case effectively finds that Métis are “Indians” within the meaning of s. 91(24)”.

“The case has been 12 years in the making.  Canada has resisted the claim vigorously, first by denying access to its records and then on the grounds that insufficient facts, the difficulty of the case and the definitional difficulties should preclude a remedy being granted by the court.  The court rejected Canada’s assertions on all of these grounds and emphasized that difficulty cannot be used to deny a remedy.  The judge also held that the Métis have a right to know which government has jurisdiction over them”.

The issue of jurisdiction for Métis is an important one.  For decades Canada has only assumed jurisdiction for Métis north of the 60th parallel.  This exclusion has increasingly created a divide between Indians and Métis as economic restrictions have come into place.  As the court noted Canada’s own documents admit that Métis are more exposed to discrimination and other social disabilities and that “in the absence of Federal initiative in this field they are the most disadvantaged of all Canadian citizens.”

Lakehead University – Métis Rights The time has come