Special statement by President Chartrand on Supreme Court Decision not to hear MMF appeal on Hydro

March 3, 2022

Winnipeg, MB, in the National Homeland of the Red River Métis - Today, the Supreme Court of Canada decided not to hear the Manitoba Métis Federation's (MMF) appeal of the Manitoba Court of Appeal's (MBCA) decision in Manitoba Metis Federation Inc. v Brian Pallister et al. Important issues raised by the MMF remain to be decided by the courts, and the Crown's duty to consult with and accommodate the Manitoba Métis on significant Hydro projects remains unfulfilled.

In August 2021, the MMF sought leave from the Supreme Court of Canada to appeal the MBCA's decision in Manitoba Metis Federation Inc. v Brian Pallister et al. The appeal was based on the MMF's challenge by way of an application for judicial review to determine whether the Pallister government had the authority to direct Manitoba Hydro not to honour an agreement that had been made between Manitoba Hydro and the MMF.

The MMF-Manitoba Hydro agreement dealt with several specific Manitoba Hydro projects and would have provided $67.5 million in compensation for the infringement of Manitoba Métis rights, as well as other accommodation measures. This MMF-Manitoba Hydro agreement was intended to address the Crown's constitutional duty to consult with and accommodate the Manitoba Métis regarding certain Manitoba Hydro projects. After the Pallister government directed Manitoba Hydro not to honour its agreement with the MMF and had repeatedly refused to meet with the leadership of Manitoba Hydro to discuss important issues, nine of 10 members of the Manitoba Hydro board of directors resigned.

Despite this mass resignation, Premier Pallister denied that his government had done anything wrong and denied that the honour of the Crown applied in any way to his government's decisions, despite the obvious and direct effects on the Manitoba Métis.

The MBCA ultimately determined that the honour of the Crown did apply to the Pallister government's decision to direct Manitoba Hydro on how to treat the MMF. However, the Court concluded that the decision did not breach the honour of the Crown, even though the Pallister government did not follow the terms of the dispute resolution process the parties had previously agreed to.

The Court recognized that while the Pallister government could direct Manitoba Hydro not to honour its specific agreement with the MMF, the Crown still had a constitutional duty to consult with and accommodate the Manitoba Métis, and the Pallister government's direction "did not preclude" a future agreement addressing these obligations.

The MMF sought to appeal this MBCA decision to the Supreme Court of Canada.

The Supreme Court of Canada has decided not to hear the MMF's appeal. Despite this, the MMF had previously commenced separate civil litigation in respect of the Pallister government's termination of the agreement between Manitoba, the MMF and Manitoba Hydro, amongst other matters. In declining to enjoin that termination, Chief Justice Glenn D. Joyal, of the Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench emphasized that the duty to consult and accommodate would continue. MMF's litigation includes a claim for damages and related relief, and raises important issues that are not affected by today's ruling. The case will be dealt with by the Manitoba courts.

As well, given that Manitoba Hydro was directed by the Pallister government not to proceed with the MMF-Manitoba Hydro agreement, the provincial Crown's duty to consult with and accommodate the Manitoba Métis on significant Hydro projects remains unfulfilled.

The MMF remains confident that the Pallister government's improper treatment of the Manitoba Métis will ultimately be addressed.

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Believe in Yourself; Believe in Métis. 

The Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) is the democratic government for the Manitoba Métis, also known as the Red River Métis, the origin and core of the Métis Nation. The Manitoba Métis are Canada's Negotiating Partners in Confederation and the Founders of the Province of Manitoba.

For more information, media may contact:
Kat Patenaude
Media Relations Advisor
Manitoba Métis Federation
204-801-7710
Kat.Patenaude@mmf.mb.ca

 


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