MMF Responds to Decision in MMF v Brian Pallister Judicial Review

March 18, 2020

Winnipeg - The Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) is disappointed that the Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench has dismissed the MMF's application for judicial review of a directive issued by the Pallister Government on March 21, 2019 (the "Directive"). The Directive instructed Manitoba Hydro to "not proceed" with an accommodation agreement the Crown corporation had reached with the MMF in the summer of 2017 in respect of six hydro projects in the Manitoba Métis Homeland. The Pallister Government issued the Directive immediately after the unprecedented resignation of nine Manitoba Hydro Board members.

The MMF filed for judicial review because the Directive was an unlawful exercise of authority that failed to uphold the honour of the Crown.

"We entered into solemn agreements setting out how Métis people's constitutional rights would be accommodated in respect of Hydro development in our province," said MMF President David Chartrand. "The Court has now ruled that the provincial government is not bound by the Honour of the Crown in respect of those agreements. That cannot be correct. The conduct of the Pallister Government was profoundly dishonourable."

In an extraordinary step, the Court decided the key constitutional and Aboriginal rights issues on a preliminary evidentiary motion in a July 2019 decision, before hearing the MMF's substantive arguments in September 2019.

"For that reason, I wasn't surprised by the final decision," said President Chartrand. "However, other Indigenous leaders will probably be very surprised to learn that they cannot trust or rely upon agreements that they negotiate with the Crown in Manitoba regarding their Aboriginal rights."

President Chartrand also noted that the decision not only affects the Manitoba Métis Community.

"All Indigenous people should beware if the Crown can take the benefits of an accommodation agreement and then simply walk away before fulfilling its end of the bargain," concluded President Chartrand. "This lower court appears to have created a giant gap in the reconciliation framework set out by the Supreme Court of Canada. If this decision is somehow right, all the impact and benefit agreements signed across the country are not what we thought they were."

The MMF has instructed its lawyers to appeal the Court's decision to the Manitoba Court of Appeal. In addition, the MMF filed a statement of claim earlier this month suing the Government of Manitoba, Manitoba Hydro, the Premier, and other Ministers as a result of their actions related to the agreement between MMF and Manitoba Hydro.


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