Friday, November 03, 2006

SHIRKING RESPONSIBILITY?

Several weeks ago L. Ian MacDonald argued that Stephen Harper's government was returning to the constitutional tradition of respecting the division of powers, in the BNA Act, between the provincial and federal governments, in contrast to Liberal government intrusions into provincial jurisdictions. Now it seems the government is taking that philosophy one step further and handing over federal powers to the provinces:

Indian Affairs Minister Jim Prentice ignited a storm of controversy yesterday with his suggestion that the authority to resolve land-claim disputes that predate Confederation does not rest solely with Ottawa.

Mr. Prentice drew a distinction between aboriginal land claims that arose before the British North America Act came into existence in 1867 and those that followed. He said Ottawa and Ontario share responsibility for resolving a land claim on the Six Nations reserve in Southwestern Ontario, which is at the centre of a long-simmering dispute.
To be fair, the Globe article points out that the federal government has been trying to make this argument for several years, suggesting its not just a Conservative party tactic; also, I'm not a constitutional legal expert.

However, I do have some experience in the history of these topics, and it was always my understanding that the BNA Act specifically transferred all responsibilities and agreements that the British Crown had negotiated with Aboriginal Nations to the federal government of Canada.

Posted by Matthew @ 12:39 PM