Manitoba First Nations would have expanded authority to ticket bylaw breakers under new legislation
MKO said current system 'time-consuming, cumbersome' for police to enforce First Nation's bylaws
Manitoba's Justice Minister has introduced a bill that would enable First Nations to fine people who break laws and bylaws on reserve, following a call from a northern Indigenous advocacy organization.
Kelvin Goertzen delivered the first reading of Bill 43 on Tuesday, which is meant to simplify the legal framework and allow First Nations to enforce their bylaws on their territories through tickets and fines through the provincial court.
The legislation changes were proposed by Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak more than a year ago to help protect public safety.
"In particular, MKO has identified the need for the extension of the ticketing regime in the Provincial Offences Act to First Nations laws to make enforcement more efficient, which will also effectively enhance and support compliance and public safety in First Nations communities," Goertzen said in question period at the Manitoba Legislature on Tuesday.
Last November, the advocacy agency held a chiefs assembly on justice and policing.
Part of the issue, the assembly heard, revolves around local police forces being unwilling to enforce First Nations laws and bylaws, including bans on drugs and alcohol.
The RCMP ramped up its efforts to curb bootlegging into dry communities in March, but chiefs told CBC News at the time that they were still running into roadblocks enforcing local bylaws.
The process to convict a person of breaking a First Nation's bylaw is "time-consuming" and "cumbersome" for the police officers involved, the assembly heard, because it needs to be enforced under the Indian Act, rather than the Provincial Offences Act.
Goertzen says community safety officers in First Nations communities will have expanded authority to enforce provincial statutes and bylaws, and to respond to a range of lower-risk incidents that don't require police intervention.