Grassy Narrows: Supreme Court confirms provincial jurisdiction over logging and mining on Treaty Lands
Two weeks after the highly publicized Tsilhqot’in v. British Columbia decision, the Supreme Court of Canada has released another prominent decision in the area of Aboriginal law. The issue in Grassy Narrows First Nations v. Ontario (also referred to as Keewatin v. Ontario) was a narrow but important one – does a province (rather than the federal government) have the authority to approve logging, mining and other activities on Crown lands that are subject to treaty rights? The Court’s answer can be summarized as “yes, but only if the province has met its duty to consult.”
What is the significance of the case to industry?
The stakes in the case were high - a ruling against the province would have cast doubt on the validity of provincial approvals for forestry, mining and other activities on Crown lands that were surrendered by treaty. By rejecting that outcome, the Court has provided a pragmatic framework for dealing with surrendered lands, while ensuring that provinces respect treaty rights. This ruling should allow industry participants to breathe a little easier knowing that existing provincial approvals on surrendered lands are valid, provided the province’s duty to consult has been fulfilled.Continue Reading...