Supreme Court rules ministers do not have to consult First Nations when drafting laws

The federal government does not have to consult Indigenous communities when drafting new legislation, the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled, dismissing the appeal of the Mikisew Cree First Nation.

Had the ruling been in the Cree nations’ favour, it could have dramatically altered how laws are made in Canada.

The majority of the justices ruled that while Parliament needs to act “honourably” towards Indigenous people during the legislative process, there isn’t a requirement to consult before a bill is tabled.

The northern Alberta nation had taken the matter to court after the 2012 Harper-era tabling of two omnibus pieces of legislation that changed environmental protections. The Cree nation argued that the government had a legal duty to consult them while developing the bills because the changes could impact their treaty rights.

All nine of Canada’s Supreme Court justices unanimously agreed with the previous Federal Court of Appeal ruling that stated the Court didn’t have the jurisdiction to hear the request for a judicial review, citing the separation of power between the executive and parliamentary branches of government, and the court.

The Court said that while the duty to consult is not triggered while developing legislation, there was some division between the justices when it came to under what other circumstances require the prime minister and cabinet to consult First Nations on matters that may impact their rights.

More to come…

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