Beaucage v Métis Nation of Ontario, 2019 ONSC 633

Motion granted. The nature of the Métis Nation of Ontario’s responsibilities and relationship with the government, does not transform the private voluntary organization’s membership decisions into public law decisions that are subject to judicial review.

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The Métis Nation of Ontario (“MNO”) has moved to quash this application for judicial review on the ground that this Court has no jurisdiction. The underlying application for judicial review sought an order to set aside the decision of a genealogist, that denied the applicant’s appeal from earlier decisions that refused his application for membership in the MNO. The applicant’s mother and sister became registered citizens of the MNO in 2002. In 2003, the Supreme Court of Canada (“SCC”) released its decision in R v Powley, [2003] 4 CNLR 321 (“Powley”). The SCC, although emphasizing that there is no universal definition of “Métis”, provided a framework for determining who is Métis for the purposes of s 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. Thereafter, a new definition of “Métis” was effectively adopted by the MNO. This application for judicial review does not relate to s 35 rights. When the new definition was implemented by the MNO, however, current citizens such as the applicant’s mother and sister were grandfathered and therefore did not need to meet the new requirements. New applicants, including family members as in this situation, however, must now meet the new requirements.

The test on a motion to quash an application for judicial review asks whether it is plain and obvious or beyond doubt that the judicial review application would fail (Adams v Canada (AG), 2011 ONSC 325 (“Adams”); Certified General Accountants Assn of Canada v Canadian Public Accountability Board (2008), 233 OAC 129 (Div Ct)). In this case, it is beyond the jurisdiction of this Court. As found in prior decisions, the Divisional Court has no jurisdiction under s 2 of the Judicial Review Procedure Act to judicially review any decision outside the public law sphere (Trost v Conservative Party of Canada, 2018 ONSC 2733; Adams; Deeb v Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada, 2012 ONSC 1014). The purpose of judicial review is to ensure the legality of state decision making (Highwood Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses (Judicial Committee) v Wall, 2018 SCC 26 (“Wall”). In Wall, the SCC underscored the importance of distinguishing between “public” in the generic sense and “public” in the public law sense. Broad public impact is insufficient to bring a decision within the public law sphere.

All corporations are creatures of statute. The corporation must be discharging public duties or exercising powers of a public nature before it is subject to judicial review (Knox v Conservative Party of Canada, 2007 ABCA 295). The MNO Act does not confer public duties on the MNO or delegate governmental responsibilities to it. The MNO Act and its history do not transform the decision at issue into a public law decision that is subject to judicial review. The MNO participates specifically on behalf of its citizens, not on the basis that it represents all Métis (“Powley”). Provincial and federal governments may accept an MNO card based on the MNO registry of citizens, but an MNO card is not an exclusive requirement. The MNO calls its members citizens but nothing turns on the use of that nomenclature.

Blackjack v Yukon (Chief Coroner), 2018 YKCA 14

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Appeal dismissed. The chief coroner and a judge have concurrent, equivalent and continuing jurisdiction to order an inquest whenever it is advisable, regardless of the steps previously taken by the chief coroner.

This is an appeal by the chief coroner from an order that an inquest be held into Cynthia Blackjack’s death, a First Nation woman from Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation (“LSCFN”). Ms. Blackjack, after having repeatedly attended a local health centre, died during her transport to Whitehorse on-board a medevac aircraft. The chief coroner assumed conduct of the investigation under the Coroners Act, and after her investigation, she decided not to hold an inquest into the circumstances surrounding Ms. Blackjack’s death. The LSCFN brought allegations of racial discrimination in the provision of health care services to the chief coroner’s attention and asked for her reconsideration of an inquest. Despite the allegations of systemic discrimination, the chief coroner maintained her decision. The LSCFN and the mother of Ms. Blackjack then applied to a judge under s 10 of the Coroners Act for an order that an inquest be held, which was granted. The chief coroner appealed from this order and to have it set aside. She contends that the chambers judge lacks the jurisdiction to make the order and has failed to accord her decision due deference.

There are two distinct functions for an inquest by Canadian coroners into the circumstances surrounding questionable deaths in their communities (Faber v The Queen, [1976] 2 SCR 9, (“Faber”); Charlie v Yukon Territory (Chief Coroner), 2013 YKCA 11, (“Charlie”)): 1) there is an investigative function that is narrow and case specific that involves an inquiry into the identity of the deceased and how, when and where that death occurred and; 2) the public-interest function, which is broader and social. This entails exposing systemic failings that cause or contribute to preventable death, and recommends systemic changes to reduce the risk to human life. It satisfies the community that the circumstances surrounding questionable deaths have received due attention from accountable public authorities (Faber; Pierre v McRae, 2011 ONCA 187, (“Pierre”)).

Coroners perform these functions, with and without the assistance of juries, within parameters established by legislation. When an inquest is conducted, it is inquisitorial in nature and it functions as an extension of the initial investigative process (Charlie). Like coroners, juries do not determine legal responsibility, as inquests also fulfill the broader public-interest function. Over time, Canadian courts have come to recognize this function as increasingly significant for several reasons, including the need to allay public suspicions, remove doubts about questionable deaths and contribute to justice being both done and seen to be done (Faber; Pierre). This is often particularly important where the deceased was a vulnerable person. It is also particularly apparent in this case given Ms. Blackjack’s possible vulnerability as a First Nation citizen and the nature of the care she received in the period preceding her death, regardless of whether a causal link was established between those circumstances and the medical cause of her death.

The applicable principles of statutory interpretation are uncontroversial. As stated in s 10 of the Interpretation Act, the provisions of the Coroners Act must be given such fair, large and liberal interpretation as best insures the attainment of its objects. The words of s 10 must be read in the entire context, in the grammatical and ordinary sense, harmoniously with the scheme and objects of the Coroners Act and the intention of the legislature (Rizzo & Rizzo Shoes Ltd. (Re), [1998] 1 SCR 27). The sorts of circumstances that surround a questionable death which may engage the functions of an inquest are potentially diverse and difficult to identify in the abstract. That there is good reason to believe a deceased person received substandard care in and around the time of death, could be a matter of legitimate public concern. It could involve systemic failings and may warrant public scrutiny, regardless of what precisely caused the death from a purely medical perspective.

The chief coroner and a judge have concurrent, equivalent and continuing jurisdiction to order an inquest whenever it is advisable, regardless of the steps previously taken by the chief coroner. Although the chief coroner has other powers under the Coroners Act, they are powers of investigation and administration, neither of which fall within the purview of a judge and all of which a deputy chief coroner can fulfill when the chief coroner is unavailable. The fact that the chief coroner is also granted other statutory powers under the Coroners Act does not suggest the legislature intended to subordinate the jurisdiction of a judge to that of the chief coroner under s 10. The words of s 10 also indicate a concurrent and equivalent jurisdiction that is continuing in nature. The plain meaning of its words is that both the chief coroner and a judge have ongoing jurisdiction to direct an inquest, if advisable, regardless of what has previously transpired. In effect, s 10 allows either the chief coroner or a judge to order an inquest into a death where the chief coroner has previously declined to do so.

Continuing jurisdiction of this sort is unusual in an adversarial system of justice. Nevertheless, it fits comfortably within the overall scheme of the Coroners Act. An inquest does not serve to determine rights and fault. There is no risk of double jeopardy or unduly prolonged exposure to liability posed by continuing jurisdiction of this nature. There is no risk of inconsistent orders if the chief coroner and a judge have concurrent, equivalent and continuing jurisdiction. This is so because s 10 jurisdiction is only exercised when one or the other directs that an inquest be held. While either or both may choose not to exercise s 10 jurisdiction faced with a particular set of circumstances, the Coroners Act does not enable either to order that an inquest shall not be held.

Pictou Landing First Nation v Nova Scotia (Aboriginal Affairs), 2018 NSSC 306

Application granted. A potential for adverse impact suffices to trigger the duty to consult. Although the question is open on whether “government conduct” attracting the duty to consult includes the legislative process, the doctrine does extend to strategic, higher level decisions that may have an impact on Aboriginal claims and rights.

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Located at Abercrombie Point, Pictou County, is a bleached kraft pulp mill (“the mill”) that is owned and operated by Northern Pulp Nova Scotia Corporation (“Northern Pulp”). The Boat Harbour Act(“BHA”), provides that the use of the mill must cease on January 31, 2020. Northern Pulp, however, is in the planning stages to apply for an Environmental Assessment (“EA”) (Environmental Act) for the design, construction and operation of a new Effluent Treatment Facility (“ETF”), otherwise the current ETF must be closed as required by the Act. The Province is currently in active consultation with the Pictou Landing First Nation (“PLFN”) regarding this application and has confirmed $70,000.00 in capacity funding to support PLFN’s meaningful participation in that process. The Province has disclosed it is also engaged in confidential discussions directly with Northern Pulp regarding potential Crown funding to support construction of the new ETF (“Potential Crown Funding”), but no such decision has yet been made.

PLFN applied for judicial review of a decision by the office of Provincial Minister of Aboriginal Affairs to deny consultation with respect to the issue of whether the Province may fund the construction of a new EFT. PLFN took the position that any such Potential Crown Funding by the Province is a separate decision that triggers an independent duty to consult with the PLFN, as this decision will have the effect of continuing the operation of the mill beyond the 2020 deadline. It could further impact the asserted rights and interests of the PLFN, but the Province disagrees that any form of Potential Crown Funding would trigger an independent duty to consult with the PLFN, as it does not meet the established legal test. There is yet no additional or potential adverse impact on the PLFN’s rights and interests.

The Court concluded upon the facts that: 1) the current ETF is an integral part of the current operation of the mill as a whole; 2) that the current ETF must close no later than January 31, 2020; 3) that the new ETF which will replace the existing facility will be integral to the continued operation of the mill beyond the deadline, and it must replace those functions discharged by the current ETF; 4) each additional potential source of funding that is available for the project makes it more likely that the new ETF project will happen; and 5) that as a consequence of a Provincial decision to fund the project, even if it is not the only potential source of funding, it would make it more likely that the mill will remain open.

An application for judicial review is the appropriate mechanism by which to seek a determination as to whether there has been a breach of the duty to consult. The Court, however, is not being asked to review a completed process of consultation replete with an extensive activity record. This would ordinarily trigger the application of a standard of reasonableness. But in these circumstances, the extant case law frames the applicable standard of review as one of correctness. Either the duty to consult exists or it does not (Mi’kmaq of Prince Edward Island v Prince Edward Island [2018] PESC 20). The duty to consult is triggered at a low threshold, but it must remain a meaningful threshold. There must be some appreciable or discernible impact flowing from the impugned Crown conduct before a duty to consult will arise. This is both logical and practical because there has to be something for the Crown and the Aboriginal group to consult about. It is conceivable that the Crown may proceed after consultation with a new ETF against the strong opposition of PLFN. But if it did, there becomes an issue of compatibility with the honour of the Crown. “Meaningful consultation” requires a “meaningful effort by the government to act in a manner that is consistent with the honour of the Crown in that particular context” (Mikisew Cree First Nation v Canada (GGC), [2019] 1 CNLR 277 (SCC)).

A potential for adverse impact suffices to trigger the duty to consult as it extends to strategic, higher level decisions that may have an impact on Aboriginal claims and rights (Rio Tinto Alcan Inc v Carrier Sekani Tribal Council, [2010] 4 CNLR 250 (SCC)). As to what constitutes an “adverse effect”, the claimant must show a causal relationship between the proposed government conduct or decision and a potential for adverse impacts on pending Aboriginal claims or rights. Although there is a generous, purposive approach to this element, past wrongs, including previous breaches of the duty to consult, and speculative impacts does not suffice to be an adverse effect (R v Douglas, [2007] 3 CNLR 277 (BCCA)). The adverse effect must be on the future exercise of the right itself, but an adverse effect on a First Nation’s future negotiating position also does not suffice. Adverse impacts extend to any effect that may prejudice a pending Aboriginal claim or right. Often the adverse effects are physical in nature, however, it could also be in connection with what constitutes Crown conduct, high-level management decisions or structural changes to the resource’s management, even if these decisions have no immediate impact. This is because such structural changes to the resources management may set the stage for further decisions that will have a direct adverse impact on land and resources.

The Province’s interest as lender funding the new ETF will undoubtedly influence “higher level” strategic decision making. If the Province is to become the lender, not only is it providing the means by which the ETF will be built, but it will have an interest to ensure that the mill will continue to remain in operation into the future so as to at least recover the taxpayers’ investment. Separation of the potential funding issue would result in the loss of an opportunity for the two sides to discuss whether the financing, if it was to be provided by the Province, should or could be tied into a system of penalties or rewards for achieving, or failing to achieve, proposed emission or effluent discharge targets. This may, potentially, impact upon the likelihood that these targets would be attained. The bifurcation of issues of the “design and construction” from the “actual funding” of the ETF, artificially compartmentalizes a process which should be treated more holistically.

Fontaine v Canada (AG), a CaseWatch Blog series of five case summaries

This is a special series of five Fontaine v Canada (AG) case summaries that involves the Chief Adjudicator of the Independent Assessment Process of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement.

 

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Fontaine v Canada (AG), 2018 ONSC 5197 (“The First Direction”)

Direction to terminate the Chief Adjudicator from his duties and all pending litigation that involves the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement.

The Chief Adjudicator has been directed to be removed from his duties from the Independent Assessment Process (“IAP”), a central feature of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement (“IRSSA”). IRSSA is Canada’s largest and most complex class action settlement that was negotiated over ten years ago. The parties included Canada, representatives of the Indigenous Peoples in Canada, and of the religious organizations that operated Indian Residential Schools (“IRS”). They diligently worked to negotiate a fair, comprehensive and lasting resolution of the legacy of IRSs. The courts that approved the IRSSA have an ongoing role in supervising, implementing, and administering the IRSSA. A simplified and expedited process for the Courts to direct the IRSSA’s implementation and administration is known as a Request for Direction (“RFD”).

The IAP is an elaborate post-settlement claims adjudication process which include means for survivors to seek compensation for claims of serious abuse and other wrongful acts. The Chief Adjudicator’s duties are set out in the IRSSA and the role is responsible for the adjudication of IAP claims through the assistance of an administrative apparatus. The IAP must constitute an autonomous adjudicative body similar to a court and subject to court supervision. The Chief Adjudicator is retained on contract to ensure independence and reports directly to the courts that supervise the Settlement Agreement. The Chief Adjudicator is not independent, however, as judges are, as the role is accountable to the Supervising Courts. That approach is consistent with the leading authorities about the role of autonomous adjudicative bodies in matters before the courts (Ontario (Energy Board) v Ontario Power Generation IncOntario (Children’s Lawyer) v Ontario (Information and Privacy Commissioner (“Goodis”)).

The Chief Adjudicator is obliged to report to the Courts at least quarterly. The most recent, the 43rd Quarterly Report to the Courts, was incomplete, as there were a number of unreported matters. The Chief Adjudicator had not only chosen to participate in several appeals before various appellate courts arising from the IAP, but had amplified that partisan position and now defies the Courts to which he is accountable. The Chief Adjudicator’s standing was challenged in the British Columbia Court of Appeal on a previous occasion, but he was permitted to participate as an intervenor, on the express understanding that his submissions would be limited to questions of jurisdiction and standard of review, but not touch on the merits. It was no answer for the Chief Adjudicator to point out that the Supreme Court of Canada and the British Columbia Court of Appeal had afforded him an audience. His standing in the pending appeals, and to make partisan arguments, has not been adjudicated and he did not advise the Supreme Court of his limited role under the IRSSA.

In connection with Canada’s RFD, the Chief Adjudicator’s counsel advised the Court that he intended to put on hold re-review cases that engaged what were called “procedural fairness” issues. He was directed that the matter be spoken to in open court, and it was made clear that for cases to be put on hold, a stay from the Court of Appeal would be required. No stay had been sought. Nevertheless, the Chief Adjudicator put a hold on the cases anyway. The Chief Adjudicator is an instrument of the IRSSA, not a stakeholder, not a party, and not an advocate for claimants or for itself. His role as an advocate is beyond his proper role, contrary to the scheme of the IRSSA and to the court orders that appointed him Chief Adjudicator. His partisan involvement has caused him to invite appellate courts to disagree with the very courts that are tasked with supervising him and to which he reports, which is unacceptable. His participation, akin to an intervention by an affected party, was not and is not required for a fully informed adjudication. The Chief Adjudicator should not be taking positions in matters arising from IAP decisions.

The goal of finality was contracted for and built into the IRSSA. Use by the Chief Adjudicator of procedural fairness as a means of re-opening IAP claims or holding them in abeyance pending the potential receipt of future admissions would compromise or defeat that important goal. Procedural fairness should not be used to avoid complying with the clear terms of the IRRSA, which preclude admission of new evidence on review or re-review and restricts reviews to the scrutiny of hearing adjudicators’ decisions for an overriding and palpable error. On re-review, the inquiry is limited to whether there was a misapplication of the IAP Model by the review adjudicator. The IAP Model requires that IAP adjudicators be impartial. It goes beyond the proper limits of the concept of procedural fairness to say that the discovery of new evidence is a sufficient basis for re-opening a hearing. Used in the context in which the Chief Adjudicator has used it in the IRSSA, “procedural fairness” is a misnomer, and one which erroneously invokes the administrative law paradigm. The IRSSA is a contract, and while the IAP Model provides an important means of redress to those who suffered abuse at IRSs, the courts and their officers must honour what was negotiated in the contract. Neither the courts nor the Chief Adjudicator should do anything that materially alters the bargain that the parties made. That bargain is set out in the IAP Model and when describing the concept of fairness in that context, the appropriate phrase is “IAP Model fairness”.

The Chief Adjudicator’s active and partisan involvement in the appeals mentioned above cause significant concern for this Court that there is a possible appearance of compromised impartiality. Partisan advocacy, or the appearance of bias, is antithetical to the role of a neutral decision-maker. A tribunal whose decision is under review is not automatically entitled to standing at common law, and a primary consideration in whether they should be permitted to address the Court is the importance of maintaining tribunal impartiality (Goodis). Another concern is that without disclosing in his reports that the Chief Adjudicator is challenging the Court’s supervision of the IAP, he has taken to challenging decisions of his Supervising Courts. The Chief Adjudicator’s actions amount to insubordination of the Courts to which he is accountable, and his conduct runs the risk of compromising his impartiality or the appearance of a compromised impartiality. These circumstances necessitated urgent corrective action on the part of this Court.

 

Fontaine v Canada (AG), 2018 ONCA 749

Relief granted. Direction issued that required the Chief Adjudicator to withdraw from his involvement in three appeals stayed and appeal allowed.

The Eastern Administrative Judge (“EAJ”) for the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement (“IRSSA”), issued a Direction that required the Chief Adjudicator to withdraw from three appeals that he is involved in has been stayed and an appeal granted. The three-part test for a stay applies: 1) the applicant must demonstrate that there is a serious issue to be tried; 2) that it will suffer irreparable harm if the stay is not granted; 3) and that the balance of convenience favours a stay pending the disposition of the appeal (RJR-MacDonald Inc v Canada (AG), [1994] 1 SCR 311 (RJR-MacDonald)).

The Court was satisfied that the Chief Adjudicator raised arguable grounds of appeal and serious questions to be determined. It is arguable that proceeding without notice and without submissions amounts to a denial of procedural justice. The Direction takes the form of a judicial order and the reasons given to support it are in the form of a judicial judgment, therefore, the usual norms of procedural fairness should have been followed. Of particular concern is the finding in the Direction that the Chief Adjudicator is guilty of “insubordination of the Courts to which he is accountable”. This is a finding of serious misconduct made against a lawyer without giving the lawyer an opportunity to respond. The Direction also relates to proceedings in other courts. The Chief Adjudicator is a respondent or an intervenor to the appeals in those other courts and is therefore subject to the control of those courts. The Chief Adjudicator accepts that he is subject to the usual limitations imposed upon administrative tribunals who participate in proceedings that challenge their decisions as outlined in Ontario (Energy Board) v Ontario Power Generation Inc, [2015] 3 SCR 147). There is an arguable issue as to whether the EAJ erred in assuming the authority to determine the nature and scope of the submissions the Chief Adjudicator should make in other courts. It is an issue as to whether the Chief Adjudicator has exceeded the limits of participation permitted for a tribunal in proceedings that challenge the tribunal’s decision.

The Court is satisfied that if a stay is denied, the Chief Adjudicator will suffer irreparable harm from being required to withdraw his factum and participation in an appeal before the Supreme Court of Canada, scheduled to be heard the next day. The balance of convenience favours granting a stay. If a stay is refused, the Chief Adjudicator’s participation in the appeals will be terminated. On the other hand, if the Chief Adjudicator’s participation exceeds the limits of what is permitted, the courts before whom the Chief Adjudicator appears can deal with that problem and limit his participation accordingly. It is accepted that where a stay would effectively determine the matter at issue, a court may go beyond the “serious issue to be tried” standard and grant the stay if the applicant shows a strong likelihood of success (RJR-Macdonald). The Chief Adjudicator has met that standard with respect to the issue of procedural fairness. Granting the stay will not preclude this Court from considering the general issues as to the nature of the relationship between the EAJ and the Chief Adjudicator on the appeal.

 

Fontaine v Canada (AG), 2018 ONSC 5706 (“Second Direction”)

The Eastern Administrative Judge (“EAJ”) for the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement (“IRSSA”), rescinds his “First Direction” and issues a “Second Direction” to address his concerns and issues with the Chief Adjudicator.

A “Second Direction” rescinds and replaces the EAJ’s earlier Direction (Fontaine v Canada (AG), 2018 ONSC 5197) for the IRSSA. In the First Direction, the EAJ directed that the Chief Adjudicator of the Independent Assessment Process (“IAP”) to terminate his involvement in pending litigation before various appellate courts arising from the IAP, in which he advances partisan positions, thereby compromising the integrity of the IAP. The Chief Adjudicator sought and was granted a stay by the Court of Appeal, pending appeal (Fontaine v Canada (AG), 2018 ONCA 749), largely on the ground that he had been denied due process. The EAJ viewed the stay granted by the Court of Appeal as making the appeal of the First Direction largely moot in that the Chief Adjudicator will go ahead with submissions on an appeal scheduled to be before the Supreme Court of Canada.

Therefore the EAJ rescinds the First Direction and will follow a different path that will provide for a fuller opportunity to canvass this Supervising Court’s underlying concerns and to provide the Chief Adjudicator with a full hearing with due process. The EAJ appoints in the Second Direction an amicus curiae to bring a Request for Direction (“RFD”). This RFD shall be heard and determined at a joint hearing by a panel of two Supervising Judges, to be assigned in accordance with the Court Administration Protocol appended as Schedule “A” to the Implementation Orders. The Second Direction specifies five issues for the RFD to address and lists the materials to be considered. The issues to be addressed reflect similar concerns to those that motivated the First Direction.

 

Fontaine v Canada (AG), 2018 ONCA 832

Relief granted. Stay for the Second Direction nunc pro tunc from the date it was issued. The appeal granted for the Second Direction will be heard together with the appeal from the First Direction.

The direction, now called the “First Direction” (Fontaine v Canada (AG), 2018 ONSC 5197), has been rescinded by the Eastern Administrative Judge (“EAJ”) that supervises, along with other courts, the Chief Adjudicator who is in charge of the Independent Assessment Process (“IAP”) of the multi-billion dollar class action settlement agreement, the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement (“IRRSA”). In the First Direction, the Chief Adjudicator was ordered to withdrawal from three appeals he was involved in, as there were concerns and issues the EAJ had regarding the Chief Adjudicator’s duties. From the EAJ rescinding and replacing his First Direction, with a “Second Direction”, it is arguable to this Court that it was done in violation of the functus officio principle. As the Supreme Court of Canada (“SCC”) stated in (Doucet-Boudreau v Nova Scotia (Minister of Education), [2003] 3 SCR 3 (“Doucet-Boudreau”)), the purpose of this principle is “to allow finality of judgments from courts which are subject to appeal”. The SCC recognized that allowing the court appealed from to vary its orders would allow that court to “assume the function of an appellate court and deny litigants a stable basis from which to launch an appeal” (“Doucet-Boudreau”).

It was also found arguable that the Second Direction amounted to an attempt to short-circuit the appeal to this Court from the First Direction. The Second Direction declared the appeal to this Court “largely moot”, rescinded the First Direction which removes the basis for the appeal, and purports to confer jurisdiction on two extra-provincial judges to decide some of the issues raised by the appeal. In addition, the terms of the RFD that the EAJ directed the amicus curiae to bring, appears to assume, if not decide, some of the issues raised before this Court in the appeal from the First Direction. The Second Direction is a final order from which an appeal lies to this Court. If the Second Direction rescinds the First Direction, it has the effect of ending the appeal from the First Direction, as the Chief Adjudicator cannot appeal from an order that is no longer in effect. The Second Direction thus removes some of the issues raised in that appeal to another tribunal outside the jurisdiction of the Ontario courts. An order that finally determines the forum for the dispute is a final order for the purposes of appeal, even though the substantive issues remain to be determined by the court or tribunal held to have that jurisdiction (Manos Foods International Inc v Coca-Cola Ltd,180 DLR (4th) 309 (ONCA)).

The Second Direction was made without notice and a hearing, thereby in violation of the principles of procedural fairness. It is unprecedented for a judge to purport to rescind an order after it has been made, appealed and stayed, thereby effectively ending the appeal and replacing it with another process. The issue of the Chief Adjudicator’s participation on court proceedings is one that affects all jurisdictions. It is arguable that a panel of two judges from different provincial and territorial superior courts should be avoided where the issue is hotly contested, as there could be risk of disagreement or conflicting results on appeal or even appeals. Irreparable harm could flow from allowing two parallel proceedings to unfold at the same time. There is a clear risk of inconsistent results that would cause confusion from which the Chief Adjudicator and the IAP would suffer serious harm. Conflicting results would also cause harm by bringing the administration of justice into disrepute. The balance of convenience favours granting a stay as it would allow these proceedings to unfold in an orderly manner and avoid duplicative proceedings that could lead to inconsistent results. The three-part test for a stay is met (RJR-MacDonald Inc v Canada (AG), [1994] 1 SCR 311).

 

Fontaine v Canada (AG), 2018 ONCA 1023

The First Direction and the Second Direction is ordered to be set aside. Any party is open to bring a Request for Direction regarding the issues in the directions, however, it must be conducted by a different supervising judge. This process must be carried out in a procedurally fair manner and the directions are limited in scope to the form and content of the reports.

The Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement (“IRSSA”) was designed to give some measure of redress to victims of a dark chapter in Canadian history. Since its implementation, tens of thousands of victims have been compensated and billions of dollars have been dispersed. It is near completion and that accomplishment is attributable in no small measure to the many people who are part of the Independent Assessment Process (“IAP”), including the appellant (the Chief Adjudicator), and the Eastern Administrative Judge (“EAJ”). The IRSSA establishes the IAP, a claims adjudication process that acts as a means of providing compensation to individuals who suffered abuse at Indian Residential Schools. The Chief Adjudicator is responsible for ensuring the proper implementation of the IAP. The Oversight Committee is provided by the IAP. The power of the Oversight Committee to appoint a Chief Adjudicator has been expressly limited and made subject to court approval, however, there is no concurrent limitation to terminate the Chief Adjudicator.

The “First Direction” was issued by the EAJ on his own motion and without notice to any party, that prohibited the appellant from continuing his participation in three appeals (the “Impugned Appeals”), one before the Supreme Court of Canada (“SCC”) and two before the British Columbia Court of Appeal (“BCCA”). The EAJ found the appellant to be insubordinate and in defiance of the supervising courts. His reasons were the appellant’s overtly partisan positions, based on the content of his facta and his participation in the Impugned Appeals that failed to be described in a recent quarterly report to the IRRSA Court Monitor. Also of concern in the First Direction, is the appellant’s efforts to hold re-review adjudications in abeyance, pending the outcome of an appeal that considered issues of procedural fairness in the IAP (Fontaine v Canada (AG), 2018 ONSC 5197). The EAJ directed the appellant to withdraw from the Impugned Appeals and remove his facta from the SCC and BCCA registries. The appellant filed a Notice of Appeal against the First Direction in this Court and moved for a stay pending the hearing of the appeal, which was subsequently granted.

The appellant was owed an elevated duty of procedural fairness and natural justice because the EAJ was exercising his judicial functions (A(LL) v B(A), [1995] 4 SCR 536). The EAJ’s power to supervise must be exercised in a manner that conforms to the principles of natural justice and respects the rights of the appellant to procedural fairness. The First Direction amounted to a warning that all the orders for the Chief Adjudicator must implemented by the deadline mandated by the EAJ, otherwise the appellant could face termination from his position. But the power to terminate the Chief Adjudicator resides with the Oversight Committee, not the EAJ. It must also be remembered that the appellant occupies a significant role in the administration of a multi-billion dollar class action settlement, thereby the First Direction compromised the appellant’s professional reputation and his ability to carry out his mandate as Chief Adjudicator.

Subsequently, the EAJ issued another direction (the “Second Direction”), again on his own motion and without notice to any party. The Second Direction purported to rescind the First Direction for the express purpose of avoiding appellate review. It directed “a different path that will provide for a fuller opportunity to canvass this Supervising Court’s underlying concerns” and “provide the Chief Adjudicator with a full hearing with due process, as he submits is his due” (Fontaine v Canada (AG), 2018 ONSC 5706). The appellant filed a Notice of Appeal against the Second Direction and moved for a stay pending determination of the appeal. It was granted along with the relief that the two appeals be heard together. This Court also accepted that the Second Direction violated the law of functus officio. Once the First Direction was issued, the EAJ’s jurisdiction over the matter was exhausted. While the First Direction was under appeal, he had no authority to rescind and replace it with the Second Direction. The principle of functus officio addresses the harm at issue in these appeals, namely that a lower court must not interfere with the jurisdiction of an appellate court (Doucet-Boudreau v Nova Scotia (Minister of Education), [2003] 3 SCR 3). Courts do not have the power to amend an order except in limited circumstances that have no application in this case.

This Court should not determine the substantive issues raised in the First Direction and the Second Direction. An RFD to the supervising courts is the process mandated by the Implementation Orders for applications regarding the administration of the IRSSA. Where a hearing is required, the administrative judges determine the jurisdiction in which the hearing should be held. Where the issues will affect all jurisdictions, the hearing may be directed to any court supervising the IRSSA. There is nothing in the Court Administration Protocol of the IRRSA that permits the courts to initiate their own process. Instead, it is contemplated that it is the parties that bring RFDs to the courts. If the respondent has a concern about that conduct, there is nothing preventing it from bringing a RFD. Engaging in the RFD process would permit all parties to adduce evidence, make submissions, and to receive the direction of the court. The IRSSA, the Implementation Orders, and the Court Administration Protocol provide a detailed procedure regarding the adjudication of issues that arise in the administration of the IAP. That process must be respected. While the courts have a supervising role, it is one that must be guided by the IRSSA and the Implementation Orders. The supervising courts are not free to graft on their own processes to the mandated RFD process.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bill C-262 Letter from Experts to Canada’s Honourable Senators

Wiyasiwewin Mikiwahp Native Law Centre

A letter, submitted by 101 various experts and academics in the fields of Indigenous, human rights, constitutional law and/or international law, urges Canada’s Honourable Senators for the swift proceeding of Bill C-262 before the current session of Parliament ends.

Summary of Bill C-262 Letter from Experts:

Bill C-262, formally titled, “An Act to ensure that the laws of Canada are in harmony with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples” was passed on May 30, 2018, in the House of Commons. Indigenous peoples and individuals, leaders, and human rights experts hailed this historic event as a victory for the human rights of Indigenous peoples in Canada.

The letter, however, communicates the concern that misguided claims or apprehensions continue to be used by some Senators to justify opposition and slow the progress of the bill in the Senate. This piece of legislation does not create new rights. It establishes a process for the government, in full partnership with Indigenous peoples, to achieve implementation of the Declaration in Canadian law in the three following ways: 1) Bill C-262 affirms the Declaration as a universal international human rights instrument with application in Canadian law. This is consistent with the fact that the UN Declaration already has legal effect in Canada and can be used by Canadian courts and tribunals to interpret Canadian laws; 2) the Bill requires the government to work with Indigenous peoples to review existing laws and bring forward reforms to ensure their consistency with the Declaration and; 3) Bill C-262 creates a legislative framework for the federal government to collaborate with Indigenous peoples to establish a national action plan for the implementation of the Declaration. Bill C-262 has been referred to Committee, 11 months after its adoption by the House of Commons.

Below are the links to the English and French versions of Bill C-262 Letter from Experts.

English Version of Bill C-262 Letter from Experts:
EN_Bill C-262 Letter from Experts

French Version of Bill C-262 Letter from Experts:
FR_Bill C-262 Letter from Experts

 

Corneau v AG of Québec, 2018 QCCA 1172

Wiyasiwewin Mikiwahp Native Law Centre Case Watch

The test set out in R v Powley for Métis rights requires that a Métis community’s distinct nature be sought out, but does not require that the underlying practices and traditions be distinct.

This case involved an application brought against Mr. Corneau, and other alleged offenders, for occupying sites on public lands without any property right, lease or occupancy permit contrary to s.54 of The Act Respecting the Lands in the Domain of the State (“the Act”). Mr. Courneau contested the application on the basis that he belongs to a Métis community which confers rights to occupy the alleged public lands. It was held at trial that Mr. Corneau did not meet the requirements of the test set out in R v Powley for Métis rights. Mr. Corneau has appealed the decision, calling into question the trial court’s assessment of: (i) the evidence following the identification of the historic Métis community; (ii) the existence of a modern community; (iii) the appellants’ membership in the modern community and (iv) the period of control. In the end, the Québec Court of Appeal (“the Court”) dismissed the appeals and ordered that Mr. Corneau abandon the sites and return the premises to their former condition.

The Court began by reviewing the R v Powley decision, which clarified the test for identifying a Métis community’s rights. It first began by observing that the term Métis is not a matter of genetics, but rather of culture and identity. As articulated by the Supreme Court of Canada (“SCC”), the term Métis “does not encompass all individuals with mixed Indian and European heritage; rather it refers to distinctive peoples who, in addition to their mixed ancestry, developed their own customs, way of life and recognizable group identity”. Furthermore, a Métis community are “a group of Métis, with a distinctive collective identity, living together in the same geographic area.” The Court then identified the constitutionally protected Métis rights as those rights subsisting in Métis communities that emerged between first contact and the effective imposition of European control. The focus therefore is on rights that existed “post-contact”, for example after a particular Métis community arose, but also “pre-control”, or before it came under the effective control of European laws and customs.

The Court then reviewed the factual matrix as presented by the trial court. The trial court found the evidence adduced by the appellants to be insufficient to establish an identifiable historic Métis community that would allow mixed individuals to be distinguished from their biological authors. This was decided after consideration of the evidence presented by historians, genealogists and anthropologists. It was also the opinion of the trial judge that even if there was a historic community of Métis tied to the land in question, there was no modern community holding the right being claimed. Finally, in consideration of the personal circumstances of Mr. Corneau, the trial judge found the evidence of self-identification with a Métis community unconvincing. The trial court observed that: (1) Mr. Corneau’s self-identification occurred later in life and was driven by opportunism; (2) that his ancestral connection did not, on the balance of probabilities, belong to an historic Métis community; and that (3) the absence of a cultural tie between the Métis organizations and his ancestral Métis community suggest that there is not, on the balance of probabilities, sufficient evidence of the existence of the right claimed.

The Court then set out the standard of review as requiring a palpable and overriding error standard for questions of mixed fact and law. It noted that, as per R v Van der Peet, courts must not undervalue the evidence of Aboriginal claimants simply because there is no evidence conforming to the evidentiary standards of other areas of law, such as a private law torts case. It also cited Mitchell v MRN, which highlighted that while Aboriginal claims must still be established on the basis of persuasive evidence, their forms of evidence must also be afforded equal and due treatment.

In respect of issue (i) and (ii), the Court agreed with the trial court that there was no historic Métis community, but upheld the appellants’ contention that the trial court applied the test too strictly. The Court observed that the test, as applied by the trial court, takes for granted that the practise and traditions of the community in question must be distinct, while the SCC only required that the distinctive nature be sought out. Nonetheless, this error is not determinative, as it does not change the conclusion of the Court that there was no historic community holding rights to be claimed. Specifically, the Court agreed that the appellants’ expert witnesses failed to meaningfully question the evidence of historian Russel Bouchard. Evidence from Bouchard was relied on to build the claim that the individuals from mixed marriages between Euro-Canadians and Indians defended their diversity as a cultural and identity marker. The respondents, however, presented evidence suggesting that such marriages did not result in a distinct community, but rather integration into the already established Montagnais community and later into Euro Canada. In the end, the practices or traditions must also be proved. While the Court does not directly address the issues of whether there exists a modern Métis community, they are not required to as they have concluded that no historic community existed.

In respect of issue (iii), the Court held that the trial court erred in their comparison of the historic Métis community of Sault Ste Marie with the alleged historic Métis community of Domaine du Roy and Mingan Seignory. In particular, the Court held that the trial court’s strict application of the factors of density and proximity is inappropriate. As stated by the Court, “it is possible to imagine that members of a historic community could settle in several separate locations while forming a single regional unit.”  An historic community can be regional and nomadic.

In respect of issue (iv) the Court agreed with the trial court’s contention that control over the territory in question occurred between 1842 and 1850. Both the appellants and the respondents contest this finding. The appellants argued that the correct time period ought to be after 1856 when Aboriginal people were displaced following the creation of reserves, relying on primitive land surveys between 1843 and 1860, indicated in the installation of a municipal regime and administration of justice, to support this position. The Court found, however, that they failed to submit sufficient evidence to illustrate a palpable and overriding error on the part of the trial court.

The respondents argued that the trial court erred in analyzing the evidence based on the legal criterion for control. The Court dismissed this position on the basis that the expert evidence relied on by the respondents mis-categorized the Domaine du Roi territory as one governed by the seigneurial land grant system, under which control was established between 1733 and 1767. Under cross-examination it was revealed that no primary or secondary sources refer to Domaine du Roi as a secondary estate. Instead, the Domaine du Roi was preserved for the fur trade and no land grants were offered in respect of it and ended in 1842 when the government included a condition in a renewed lease of the Hudson’s Bay Company that the government could have the land surveyed and could settle colonists in any part of the Domaine suitable for agricultural colonization. Thus, the Court found that the evidence supported the approach taken by the trial court.

 

Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions v Michel Tremblay, 2018 Court of Québec

Wiyasiwewin Mikiwahp Native Law Centre Case Watch

For a Métis claim of Aboriginal rights to succeed under s.35, there must be evidence, on a balance of probabilities, that a Métis community had existed that asserted sufficient control over the territory in question, prior to the imposition of European control.

Mr. Tremblay, asserted that he is Métis but faced multiple criminal charges relating to wildlife preservation, sustainable development, wildlife habitat and forests. The issue at hand is whether the provisions of the statues and regulations are not applicable to Mr. Tremblay as a result of his rights protected by s.35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. The Court held that Mr. Tremblay was guilty of the offences to which he is charged, as there was insufficient evidence to establish that a Metis community existed with sufficient control of the territory in the period in which Mr. Tremblay alleges.

Counsel for Mr. Tremblay argued that s.35 protected his rights as they pertain to hunting, fishing, trapping and gathering rights, as well as his right to take part in activities traditionally and reasonably incidental to the exercise of his rights under ss.35 (1) and (2). In their view, this constituted the exercise of Aboriginal rights to partake in activities for food, social purposes and in traditional Métis celebrations such as clearing impassable paths, modifying banks of watercourses so that they are reasonably accessible for young or elderly people, stocking fish in lakes as well as taking measures to keep them in certain watercourses by protecting and preserving peaceful and safe hunting practices by erecting temporary barriers.

Counsel for the Attorney General Quebec (AGQ) recognized that if criteria 2 and 6 set out in R v Powley were met, the evidence submitted would be sufficient to establish on the balance of probabilities that hunting, fishing and trapping for subsistence purposes, constituted the contemporary expression of traditional Métis practices. They further asserted that on the facts, Mr. Tremblay’s activities do not pertain to the traditional culture of a Métis community and cannot be considered incidental to contemporary practices of primary Aboriginal hunting, fishing and trapping rights. For clarity, criteria 2 from R v Powley is whether the claimant is a member of a contemporary Métis community, while criteria 6 is whether the practice is integral to the culture of the community.

R v Powley stated that rights enshrined and protected in ss.35 (1) and (2) are Aboriginal rights of Métis and Aboriginal communities. A Métis community consists of a group of Métis with distinctive collective identities. The Court of Québec made reference to the historical observations set out by counsel and accepted in R v Powley. This was reinforced at the Court of Appeal, which affirmed that prior to the assertion of sovereignty, there was a recognized separate Métis community in the area of Sault St. Marie. The Court also pointed to R v Willison, which set out that evidence of a settlement is not required for a Métis community to exist. Finally, reference was made to R v Van der Peet to elucidate the approach to be taken in hearing applications regarding the recognition of Métis rights. For Métis communities, the rights established cannot be rights that existed prior to contact but rather rights existing prior to the imposition of European Canadian control.

The expert evidence provided allowed the Court to make conclusions in respect of Métis ethnogenesis in the study region. This included the establishment and maintenance of a historic Métis community in the study region, the genealogy of Mr. Michael Tremblay, and Crown sovereignty and effective control. The ethnogenesis in the study region suggested that a distinct Métis community developed at the dawn of the nineteenth century amongst a group of mixed-race people with close and unique ties. It was noted that a historic Métis community had been established and existed. The Métis were largely represented in farming activities, the lumber industry and the fur trade, but they also worked as guides and day labourers. They participated in the traditional economy by way of hunting, fishing and trapping, music, gathering and the manufacture of maple syrup and sugar. The Métis also engaged in canoe building and guide activities along with attachment to Catholic rites and practices.

The Court found, however, that the evidence did not truly reveal that a group of mixed ancestry was geographically isolated in that study region. The evidence submitted regarding the marriages between mixed race people also failed to establish that there was a historical Métis community. Further evidence submitted suggested that there was uncertainty regarding the number of ancestors for the period of ethnogenesis proposed. It was further suggested that of these ancestors, five out of six did not share the ethnic criteria identified by an expert. The Court also found that there was insufficient evidence that this community had its own control. The evidence presented that, although the province of Ontario obtained control by way of the Public Lands Act,1853 and the Free Grant and Homestead Act, 1868, these Acts only had significant impact on the Métis lifestyle near the end of this period. Nonetheless, the Court found that the passing of the statutes and the opening of the regional prison in 1886 radically altered the way of life of Aboriginal and Métis people. After considering all evidence presented, the Court concluded that the evidence submitted for Mr. Tremblay was insufficient on the balance of probabilities to meet the criteria outlined in R v Powley and therefore is guilty of the offences to which he was charged under the Criminal Code.

 

UN Rules That Canada’s Indian Act Discriminates Against First Nations Women

Wiyasiwewin Mikiwahp Native Law Centre Case Watch

UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Human Rights Committee, Views adopted by the Committee under article 5(4) of the Optional Protocol, concerning communication No. 2020 / 2010. (View decision here)

This case involved a claim by Ms. Sharon McIvor, and her son Mr. Jacob Grismer (the authors) against the State of Canada for violation of their rights under articles 3 and 26, read in conjunction with article 27. On September 1985, Ms. McIvor applied for registration status for herself and her children under the Indian Act (“Act”), as Indian status under the Act confers significant tangible and intangible benefits. The Registrar for Indian and Northern Affairs Canada determined that she was entitled to registration under s.6(2) of the Act and not s.6(1). Although they are descendants of Mary Tom, a First Nations woman born in 1888, at birth Ms. McIvor was initially not eligible for Indian status, as the claim would be based on matrilineal descent. She filed a statutory appeal against the decision.

The British Columbia Supreme Court indicated that s.6 of the Indian Act discriminated on the grounds of sex and marital status between matrilineal and patrilineal descendants born prior to April, 1985 and against Indian women who had married non-Indian men. On appeal, The British Columbia Court of Appeal narrowed the declaration of the British Columbia Supreme Court, finding that s.6 of the 1985 Indian Act was discriminatory, but only to the extent that it grants individuals to who the double-mother rule applied greater rights than they would have had under the pre-1985 legislation. They only found discrimination to a small subset of descendants of male Indians. Leave to appeal was refused without reasons.

Following the passage of the Indian Act, and with the intention to eliminate sex discrimination, it was alleged by Canada that Ms. McIvor could now achieve full Indian status. She contended, however, that being ineligible for Indian status under s.6(1)(a), she still does not receive the full protection of Indian status. Under her s.6(1)(c) registration, she is only able to transmit partial status to her son Jacob and is unable to transmit Indian status to her grandchildren. In contrast, her brother is eligible for full s.6(1)(a) registration status and can transmit his full status to his children. As well, Mr. Grismer, having married a woman with no First Nations ancestry, does not have standing to pass status to his children.

The authors alleged that s.6 of the 1985 Indian Act violates article 26 and article 27 in conjunction with articles 2(1) and 3 of the Covenant (reproduced below for reference) in that it discriminates on grounds of sex against matrilineal descendants and Indian women born prior to April 17, 1985. As a result of the sex-based hierarchy of this status regime, McIvor expressed a sense of stigmatization amongst Indigenous communities from women who do not have s.6(1)(a) status. Mr. Grismer also expressed a sense of isolation from not being s.6(1)(a) eligible, as he is unable to participate fully in hunting and fishing activities.

In respect of article 27, as read in conjunction with articles 2(1) and 3, the authors argued that the capacity to transmit cultural identity is a key component of cultural identity itself. S.6 has the effect of denying female ancestors and their descendants the right to full enjoyment of their cultural identity on an equal basis between men and women, in violation of article 27, read along with articles 2(1) and 3 of the Covenant.  Finally, in respect of article 2(3)(a), the authors also argued that the State had failed to provide the authors with an effective remedy for the violation of their rights under articles 26 and 27 in conjunction with articles 2(1) and 3. The only effective remedy will be one which has eliminated the preference for male Indians and their patrilineal descent and confirms the entitlement of matrilineal descendants.

In response, Canada argued that in respect of articles 26, 2(1) and 3, that the Indian Act does not create classes of Indians. On the contrary, the paragraphs in section 6(1) of the 1985 Indian Act are essentially transitional provisions, indicating for persons born before 1985, and how eligibility moves from the 1951 Indian Act registration regime to the 1985 Act, and now the 2011 criteria. Therefore, Ms. McIvor is eligible for status under the criteria of s.6(1)(c), her son is eligible based on the criteria under s.6(1)(c.1) and his children are eligible under the criteria set out in s.6(2). All individuals with status are treated the same in respect of legal rights. According to Canada, what the authors seek would potentially involve descendants of many generations removed from the female ancestor who initially suffered discrimination based on sex. The State party is not obligated to rectify discriminatory Acts that pre-dated the coming into force of the Covenant. Moreover, as of November 29, 2017, a new Bill S-3 extends eligibility for status to all descendants who have lost status because of their marriage to a non-Indian man. These provisions are subject to a delayed coming into force clause allowing for consultation with First Nations and other Indigenous groups.

Ms. McIvor and Mr. Grismer contend that although the 1985 Act was amended in 2011, it still excludes from eligibility for registration status Indigenous women and their descendants, who otherwise would be entitled to register if sex discrimination were completely eradicated from the scheme. They also contend that there is more than one Indian status, as s.6(1)(a) status is superior and comes with greater intangible benefits than s.6(1)(c) or s.6(2).

In respect of article 27, Canada argued that the authors have not adequately claimed or substantiated a violation of their right to enjoy their culture. Specifically, they have failed to substantiate any violation of their right to enjoy the particular culture of their Indigenous group. Indian status is but one facet of the identity for those that are eligible. The legislated scheme does not and cannot confer personal dignity. The authors, however, argued that they have sufficiently demonstrated a right to equal exercise and enjoyment of their culture, in particular their right to the full enjoyment of their Indigenous cultural identity and that the effect of the law is to exclude the authors from their right to transmit their culture along matrilineal lines.

The Committee found this issue admissible, as the essence of the authors’ claim rests in the alleged discrimination inherent to the eligibility criteria in s.6 of the Indian Act, despite the fact that the loss of status occurred before the entry into force of the Covenant. Additionally, while the alleged harm is argued not to flow from the State laws, the Committee accepted the authors’ contention that the discriminatory effects arose out of the State’s regulation of Indian registration. Other allegations of the State are dismissed with reference to the Committee’s prior jurisprudence.

In considering the merits of the decisions, the Committee made several notes from the arguments above. Of importance are the notes of (1) the authors’ argument that as a consequence of discrimination based on sex in the Indian Act, they have been stigmatized within their community and denied full opportunity to enjoy their culture with the other members of their Indigenous group and that (2) the authors’ argument that the State’s century-old unilateral defining of who is an Indian has led Indigenous people to view legal entitlement to registration status as confirmation or validation of their “Indian-ness”. The Committee further recalled the General comment No. 23, that article 27 establishes and recognizes a right which is conferred on individuals belonging to Indigenous groups, which is distinct from the other rights all persons are entitled to under the Covenant.

In light of these arguments, and from weighing them against the principles articulated above, the Committee found that under article 5(4) of the Optional Protocol, that the facts disclose a violation by the State party of the authors’ rights under articles 3 and 26. Canada is therefore under an obligation to provide the authors with an effective remedy.

See here for a copy of the UN Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

Article 26All persons are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to the equal protection of the law. In this respect, the law shall prohibit any discrimination and guarantee to all persons equal and effective protection against discrimination on any ground such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

Article 27: In those States in which ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities exist, persons belonging to such minorities shall not be denied the right, in community with the other members of their group, to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practise their own religion, or to use their own language.

Article 2: 1. Each State Party to the present Covenant undertakes to respect and to ensure to all individuals within its territory and subject to its jurisdiction the rights recognized in the present Covenant, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

Article 3: The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to ensure the equal right of men and women to the enjoyment of all civil and political rights set forth in the present Covenant.

 

Teslin Tlingit Council v Canada (AG), 2019 YKSC 3

Wiyasiwewin Mikiwahp Native Law Centre Case Watch

Canada has an obligation to negotiate with parties who have withdrawn from Collaborative Agreements and an obligation to negotiate in accordance with the provisions setting out accommodations for demographic changes in Self-Governance Agreements.

This case involved an application to the Yukon Supreme Court by the Teslin Tlingit Council (“TTC”) seeking six declarations against the Government of Canada in relation to negotiations pertaining to two agreements. The Final Agreement (“FA”) and the Self Governance Agreement (“SGA”) were entered into in 1993 between the TTC and the Government of Canada, and follows the Yukon-wide Umbrella Final Agreement. Rather than address each declaration, the Court elected to frame the legal issue as to whether Canada had a legally binding obligation to negotiate a Self-Government Financial Transfer Agreement with TTC, and taken into account, funding based on the Citizens of TTC in accordance with the terms of the FA and SGA. The Court held that Canada had a legal obligation to negotiate a self-government Financing Transfer Agreement with the TTC pursuant to the FA and s.16.1 and 16.3 of the SGA, including funding based on TTC citizenship. It was further held that Canada had failed to uphold such an obligation and ordered declaratory relief.

It was noted that the SGA was provided based on the number of Status Indians without accounting for the increase in the number of persons that must be accounted for. This continued to be the policy position of the government through multiple rounds of negotiations leading up to the expiry of the 2010 Financial Transfer Agreement.  In 2015, with the election of the new government Canada, a new policy was released entitled “Canada’s Fiscal Approach to Self-Government Arrangements” (“2015 Fiscal Approach”). The 2015 Fiscal Approach was the first time that Canada’s methods and approaches to FTAs were made transparent to the public and the parties. This new policy made no changes to the calculus of the Aboriginal population.

In 2016, the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs began a Collaborative Process in response to a recommendation from a First Nation coalition. The TTC withdrew from the Collaborative Process in the fall of 2016 in order to focus on meaningful implementation of the FA and SGA, after which Canada effectively halted negotiations with the TTC pending the completion of the Collaborative Process. The Court concluded that “since their withdrawal, Canada has failed to negotiate and address the major problems with TTC.”

In the Court’s view, the failure to negotiate resulted from a misinterpretation of Canada’s obligations under the FA and SGA. While s.24.12.1 of the FA does indicate that agreements are not to be construed as treaty rights, narrowly construing the obligations under s.16.1 and s.16.3 as non-constitutional rights downplays the constitutional obligations flowing from “Chapter 3 Eligibility and Enrollment” of the FA. This chapter indicated that eligibility for TTC services will be based on blood quantum and not on registration under the Indian Act. Even though the FA does not require Canada to fund every Citizen of TTC, provisions in the SGA do commit Canada to negotiate demographic factors of TTC in order to provide resources enabling public services to be reasonably comparable to those prevailing in the Yukon and at reasonably comparable levels of taxation.

Citing Nacho Nyak Dun and Little Salmon, as precedents for the importance of modern treaties for the project of reconciliation, the Court concluded that Canada did have a legal obligation to negotiate with the TTC and to provide funding based on citizenship. It was added that s.16.3 of the SGA requires a polycentric approach to negotiation and to consider the competing factors at play, and that: (1) there is utility in granting the declaration; (2) that there is a cognizable threat to a legal interest; and (3) that there is a long-standing preference for negotiated settlement. The Court granted declaratory relief and rejected Canada’s submissions that the declaration is inconsistent with reconciliation and the nation relationship, holding that the declaration promotes reconciliation by ensuring Canada adjusts policy on a timely basis.

The Children’s Aid Society of Algoma v CA, 2018 ONCJ 592

Wiyasiwewin Mikiwahp Native Law Centre Case Watch

Relief granted for an amendment to the identification findings of a First Nation child and his band.

The Children’s Aid Society of Algoma (“the Society”) brought a motion seeking a determination under s.90(2)(b) and s.2(4) of the recent Child, Youth and Family Services Act (“CYFSA”) of whether L.A., who is one years old, is a First Nation child, and if so, that the Batchewana First Nation be added as a party Respondent in this child protection proceeding. Also sought in the relief was a determination that the Batchewana band is the child’s band. Although unusual to make such determinations through a formal motion claim, there is merit to this becoming common practice. The original identification motion did not identify L.A. as a First Nation, Inuit or Métis child based on the evidence in the file at the time. In this re-opened motion, there was additional evidence filed by the Society that included an affidavit of a band representative of Batchewana First Nation that was sworn almost 25 years ago. It was for a protection proceeding in which C.P., the biological father of L.A. in this present case, was the subject child. She stated that “[t]he child C.P. is eligible for registration with [the] Batchewana First Nation”. The Society served the band representative with its motion seeking identification findings. No evidence was filed by the band representative, nor were any submissions made by her on the issue of the identification of the child.

Identification findings under the previous Child and Family Services Act (“CFSA”) were rarely, if ever, done by way of a motion. Often, the findings, especially on Status were done summarily, with no sworn, or very thin, evidence. If no band representative was named as a party in the application, the band representative would have no standing to make any comment. Such a finding, if done by motion, would at least have some standards of evidence and might afford any band an opportunity to be heard prior to a finding being made. While there are now many possible ways by which a child protection court can determine whether a child is a First Nation child, under s.1 of O. Reg. 155/18 this is not the end of the Court’s duty. If the Court determines the child to be a First Nation child, it must then move on to determine the child’s “bands”. The plural is used because it is possible that the child may have more than one band with different membership criterion. To end the determination process once only one band has been identified may be a mistake as there might be benefits from having several bands, including more options in the child protection proceeding with several band representatives.

The first determination is whether a court can ascertain the views of the child on which band(s) the child identifies itself. If the child’s views cannot be ascertained, it is still a matter of whatever band(s) a parent of the child indicates the child identifies with. This information from a parent would likely be ‘hearsay’ that the court is directed by s.21 of O. Reg. 156/18 to accept without question. However, in any child protection case, a child may have multiple ‘statutory’ parents, including some not related by blood, and each of them is entitled to indicate one or more bands with which the child identifies. This rule of interpreting the child’s band does not seem to require a parent to justify his or her indication with any evidence or information. All that is required is that person’s indication of the band(s) with which the child identifies. On the other hand, a parent may fail to make any indication at all, which is not uncommon, as in the present case. Courts normally act on evidence but none seems to be required on this issue.

Another significant provision that is relevant to this motion is s.79(1) of the CYFSA which deals with who are statutory parties in a proceeding. This is important because it adds the child’s bands as formal respondent parties in the child protection, or Status review, application before the court, where an identification finding is made that a child is a First Nation child. From a band point of view, it provides all of the rights that any party has in the application and it permits the child’s band(s) to make an important contribution. It also enables the band representative to advocate its own interests in the proceeding which may or may not coincide with those of the child or another party. The band representative, however, is a party from the outset only if named as a party by the applicant in the application, which is usually a society. This requires a society to anticipate which band(s) should be named as parties. The recent CYFSA has introduced a much more complex process for identifying a First Nation child and its band(s). In this case, the Society has brought a motion seeking judicial identification of the child not only as a First Nation child, but also a determination of the child’s band if so identified. No band representative is named as a party in this child protection case. If this is going to become the status quo procedurally, then a band will have no say in whether a child is a First Nation child, or which is the child’s band. In the Court’s view, it would be better by far to have a band or bands involved in the identification determination under s.90(2) CYFSA. This is easily done by a motion.

As for the determination of whether L.A. is a First Nation child, the Court has to look for any information that a relative of L.A. identifies as a First Nation person. There is such information. The Society affidavit provides the information that the father’s father, that is the child L.A.’s paternal grandfather, was not only a Status Indian and had an Indian Status card, but was also a member of the Batchewana band. Indian Status and Batchewana band membership of the child’s relative is sufficient to find under O. Reg 155/18 s.1(c)(i) that L.A. is a First Nation child and his band is the Batchewana First Nation band. A band representative shall be added as a party Respondent in the child protection application. In the event that this finding is incorrect, the Court has recourse to subclause (ii) of O. Reg 155/18 s.1. which directs the Court to look for any information that demonstrates a “connection” between a child and a band. The characteristics of the connection are not described, therefore the Court has chosen a broader approach that seems to be more in accordance with the spirit of the recent CYFSA. The band or the First Nation still has the option of not participating actively in the case or with the child.