By Wally Braul, Radha D. Curpen, E. Bruce Mellett, Jessica E. Mathewson and Brian Monaco
On July 11, 2014, the Supreme Court of Canada delivered its decision in Grassy Narrows First Nation v Ontario (Natural Resources), 2014 SCC 48, also known as Keewatin. The decision affirms the Court’s approach in Tsilhqot’in Nation v British Columbia, 2014 SCC 44: provinces are able to regulate over areas within their constitutional jurisdiction, even where that regulation may affect Aboriginal and treaty rights.
The Supreme Court upheld the Ontario Court of Appeal’s ruling that the province of Ontario could “take up” lands so as to limit treaty rights in the Keewatin area of Treaty 3 and by extension, in treaty areas across the province. No federal approval will be required. Provinces are still entitled to regulate in the areas of forestry, mining and resource development, subject to the requirement that the exercise of that power must be done according to the honour of the Crown and the meaningful respect for treaty rights.
The decision is relevant for resource development in areas covered by numbered treaties, such as northeastern BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario and includes such areas as the Ring of Fire in Ontario. (more…)