The motion to file a lengthy memorandum of argument and the application for leave of appeal for the Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) land claims case was granted this morning in Ottawa by the Supreme Court of Canada.
In a brief statement MMF President David Chartrand said “this case has gone on for decades and has cost the Federation millions of dollars but we are finally at a historic crossroad where our story of injustice will be heard by Canada’s highest court and we are grateful for the opportunity to present our case”
MMF lawyer, Thomas Berger went on to say “This is welcome news. The Metis claim is based on the promise made in 1870 by John A. Macdonald’s government to the Provisional Government at Red River headed by Louis Riel. The promise was that the 7000 children of the Metis (a majority of Red river’s population of 12,000 at the time) would receive 1.4 million acres of land in the new Province of Manitoba. The MMF will argue that the federal government had a fiduciary obligation- a fiduciary obligation entrenched in the Manitoba Act of 1870- to distribute the land promptly and fairly, so that the Metis and their children would constitute a thriving community at the heart of the new province. But the federal government was guilty of delay after delay, so that none of the children received deeds to their land for 10 years, some not for 15 and some never did receive any land. In the meantime a great influx of settlers had entered the province. By this time the Metis had become a marginalized minority. The Manitoba government then passed a series of laws, which the MMF will argue were unconstitutional, designed to ensure the children’s grants were ineffective. The MMF will argue that the federal breach of fiduciary obligation and the province’s series of statutes raise constitutional issues, and the MMF will argue that there is no statute of limitations on unconstitutional action by government”
For more information, please contact:Frank Coyle, Director of Communications Phone: (204) 586-8474 ext. 374 Cell: (204) 232-5737 E-mail: [email protected]