April 17th, 2014

Statement from the NDP on the Federal Court of appeal decision in the Harry Daniels case

NDP Aboriginal Affairs critic Jean Crowder (Nanaimo-Cowichan) made the following statement regarding the Federal Court of Appeal decision in the Harry Daniels Case:

“New Democrats will continue to study today’s decision and consult with those affected by it.

This ruling has a major impact on Aboriginal jurisprudence in Canada, upholding the Federal Court’s decision to recognize Métis 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 to occupy those rights. As a result, Métis have had to regularly go to the courts to secure their right to hunt and fish on Crown land.

What is clear now is that the federal government needs to better engage in meaningful consultations with First Nations, Inuit and Métis.

As the federal court of appeal said in today’s decision upholding the lower court’s decision:

“In the result, there is ample evidence to support the view that Métis were considered within section 91(24) at the time of Confederation. A progressive interpretation was, therefore, unnecessary, and the Judge did not err by failing to address the social changes that would underlie such an interpretation”.

New Democrats agree that more time spent in respectful dialogue and consultation would mean less time spent fighting these issues in the courts.”