Nfld. & Labrador

Métis court decision changes nothing: Kennedy

Newfoundland and Labrador's justice minister says a Labrador Métis Nation victory at the Supreme Court of Canada will have no bearing on how government deals with the group.

Newfoundland and Labrador's justice minister says a Labrador Métis Nation victory at the Supreme Court of Canada will have no bearing on how government deals with the group.

Canada's top court refused to hear an appeal from the provincial government on a Newfoundland Supreme Court decision that the Métis be consulted on of a construction project.

Justice Minister Jerome Kennedy believes that a 2006 Newfoundland Supreme ruling made errors in law. But because the Supreme Court of Canada did not agree to consider the case, the decision stands.

The Labrador Métis Nation, which does not have a land claims agreement or protection under aboriginal rights legislation, has described the decision — which said the provincial government ought to have consulted with the Métis on construction of a stretch of the Trans-Labrador Highway — as a landmark case with broad implications.

Kennedy, though, said nothing has changed.

"With all due respect to the Métis, this decision doesn't say a whole lot," said Kennedy.

"The court of appeal simply says there's a duty to consult. We have and are consulting with them on the Trans-Labrador Highway and the Lower Churchill, [but] the court of appeal does not give them the type of aboriginal status that they're seeking, which is essentially they want to be recognized as an aboriginal community on an equal footing with the Innu Nation and the Nunatsiavut people," said Kennedy, referring to the Labrador Inuit government.

There has been no immediate reaction to the Supreme Court of Canada decision from the Labrador Métis Nation.