New Democrats will continue to study today’s decision and consult with those affected by it.
This ruling could have a major impact on Aboriginal jurisprudence in Canada. For the first time, the federal court has recognized Métis and non-status First Nations citizens as “Indians” under Section 91(24) for the Constitution Act, 1867.
While Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution recognized three Aboriginal peoples – First Nations, Inuit and Métis – and acknowledged that these peoples have inherent Aboriginal rights, without legal recognition in federal legislation it was difficult for Métis and non-status Indians to occupy those rights. As a result, Métis and non-status Indians have had to regularly go to the courts to secure their right to hunt and fish on Crown land.
As the federal court said in today’s decision allowing this case to go forward:
“Should the plaintiffs succeed, much future litigation will be avoided because the parties will be able to enter into meaningful negotiation: if the plaintiffs fail, much litigation will then never take place. In either situation this will provide certainty for the parties, avoid litigation and save scarce judicial resources.”
For many of those participating in the grassroots IdleNoMore demonstrations, this decision will be more evidence that the federal government needs to better engage in meaningful consultations with First Nations, Inuit and Métis.
New Democrats agree that more time spent in respectful dialogue and consultation would mean less time spent fighting these issues in the courts.