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Daniels Case

On 14 April 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in Daniels v. Canada that the federal government, rather than provincial governments, holds the legal responsibility to legislate on issues related to Métis and Non-Status Indians. In a unanimous decision, the court found that Métis and Non-Status peoples are considered Indians under section 91(24) of the Constitution Act, 1867 — a section that concerns the federal government’s exclusive legislative powers. Recognition as Indians under this section of law is not the same as Indian Status, which is defined by the Indian Act. Therefore, the Daniels decision does not grant Indian Status to Métis or Non-Status peoples. However, the ruling could result in new discussions, negotiations and possible litigation with the federal government over land claims and access to education, health programs and other government services.

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Ontario Premier Doug Ford Invokes the Notwithstanding Clause

After the Ontario legislature passed Bill 5, the Better Local Government Act, on 14 August to reduce the number of Toronto city councillors from 47 to 25, Justice Edward P. Belobaba ruled on 10 September that reducing the size of council in the middle of an election was unconstitutional. On 12 September, the legislature introduced Bill 31, the Efficient Local Government Act, which invoked Section 33 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to override Belobaba’s ruling. On 19 September, the Court of Appeal for Ontario ruled that Belobaba’s decision “invalidates legislation duly passed by the legislature” and granted a stay, allowing the province to implement a 25-councillor election in Toronto on 22 October.

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Powley Case

R. v. Powley was a legal case concerning Métis hunting rights in Canada. In 1993, the province of Ontario charged Steve and Roddy Powley with illegal hunting. The Powleys disputed their conviction, arguing that the Aboriginal rights enshrined in section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 protected their hunting rights as Métis people. The case concluded in 2003, when the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the Powleys were, in fact, exercising lawful Métis hunting rights. The Powley case established criteria on who can legally qualify for Métis rights. It outlined 10 specific criteria, known as the Powley Test, which applies to Métis communities across Canada. The case also clarified that the Métis are a distinct people, separate from First Nations and Inuit peoples in Canada. Some legal experts believe the Powley case might lead to expanded Métis rights, including harvesting and fishing rights and possibly self-government.