OTTAWA, Jan. 8, 2013 /CNW/ - This morning the Federal Court Trial
Division released its long-awaited reasons for judgment in Daniels v. Canada.
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."
Métis National Council President, Clément Chartier, stated that, "this
decision is a step forward for the Métis. We have long understood that
the jurisdiction question must be settled by the courts and it has been
our understanding that jurisdiction rests with Canada. We now look
forward to discussions with the federal government about how we can
better work together to implement this decision."
Vice-President and Manitoba Métis Federation President, called the
decision "a historic milestone and this opens the door for us now to
work with the federal government to redirect our Métis tax dollars to
meet the economic needs of our people ". He further stated "this
decision will be front and centre at our upcoming meeting with the
Prime Minister and Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern
The case also determined that non-status Indians are "Indians" within
the meaning of s. 91(24).
SOURCE: METIS NATIONAL COUNCIL
For further information:
Director of Operations
Métis National Council
#4 - 340 MacLare
613-232-3216 x 500