Sudbury Accent: Decision further erodes Crown sovereignty – by Peter Best (Sudbury Star – February 2, 2019)

In December 2018, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice released its Restoule decision rendering Canada and Ontario equally liable to pay the 21 Robinson Treaties bands their “fair” share of all Crown revenue received from sales, leases and licenses, less expenses, derived from Robinson Treaties-surrendered lands (covering basically the entire Lakes Huron and Superior watershed), retroactive to 1850.

Why? Because the Court concluded that Canada and Ontario acted dishonorably by in effect unknowingly short-changing the Treaties bands of entitlements owed to them. The bands’ court winnings will be in addition to the already substantial non-treaty payments and benefits regularly paid by Canadian taxpayers to them.

This ruling is, with respect, ill founded. Ontario has appealed the decision, but Canada, to the harm of Crown sovereignty, Canadian social unity and the Canadian taxpayer, has not.

The 1850 Treaties clearly state that that the bands “freely and voluntarily” cede to the Crown all Treaties lands. The Treaties neither grant the bands a share of proceeds of the subsequent Crown disposition of lands nor of the resources within them.

There was no evidence before the court that since the Treaties were signed either the Crown or the bands acted as though the Treaties were more than what they were — “one-time agreements” — providing, in exchange for the full and final surrender of the lands, a fixed annual annuity, (set at $4 per year in 1875), lands for reserves, and the right to hunt and fish year-round on the surrendered lands.

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