Sunday, August 04, 2013

How many billions would you like "Dr." Chartrand? What about half of downtown Winnipeg?

Good Day Readers:

Over the years how much has the Manitoba Metis Federation spent on legal fees fighting their land claims case? From where did the money come? What will these "extra-judicial negotiations" with the Crown cost? From where will the money come?

David N. ("Noble") Chartrand, LL.D. received and Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Winnipeg at its Ninety-Seventh Convocation on October 21, 2012.

Clare L. Pieuk

Feds don't owe Manitoba Metis anything on land claims

MMF's 'all-star' team of investors proves they want to squeeze millions from taxpayers

Tom Brodbeck
Sunday, August 4, 2013
MMF President, David Chartrand, speaks at a news conference held by the Manitoba Metis Federaton. The MMF, today, announced their Land Claims Strategic Investment Committee. Wednesday, July 31, 2013.

In its landmark ruling earlier this year, the Supreme Court of Canada found the Manitoba Metis Federation was not seeking compensation or land in its attempts to settle a 143-year-old land squabble with the federal government.

Why, then, would the MMF unveil this week an "all-star team" of investors to help manage some future compensation deal it says is tied to the court ruling?

"The Metis seek no personal relief and make no claim for damages or for land," the court found in its March ruling. "Nor do they seek restoration of the title their descendants might have inherited had the Crown acted honourably."

Then what's up with this land claim issue and the idea that taxpayers owe the MMF tens of millions or dollars or more to set up some trust fund?

The MMF argued a whole host of grievances in front of Canada's top court regarding how land was parcelled out to the Metis when Manitoba joined Confederation in 1870.

The MMF lost almost all of its arguments, including the claim the federal government had a "fiduciary" duty to Metis people in the late 1870s. The Supreme Court disagreed.

But the top court did agree on one thing. They ruled the federal government didn't parcel out the land properly or quickly enough in the 1870s. It took 10 years to hand out the land to the vast majority of Metis families and another five years to process the remaining few hundred through "scrip" - or payments in lieu of land.

The Metis got their land or scrip. It just wasn't administered effectively enough. And by today's standards, it was a little sloppy, the court ruled.

As a result, in a 6-2 decision, the Supreme Court found the federal government failed to implement the land grant provision "in accordance with the honour of the Crown."

That's it. That's the nub of the ruling.

There is no land claim and the court did not order the federal government to compensate the Metis in any way, shape, or form.

It was simply a declaration from the court.

"They seek a declaration that a specific obligation set out in the Constitution was not fulfilled in the manner demanded by the Crown's honour," the court ruled. "They seek this declaratory relief in order to assist them in extra-judicial negotiations with the Crown in pursuit of the overarching constitutional goal of reconciliation that is reflected in s.35 of the Constitution."

So, what does "extra-judicial negotiations with the Crown" mean? Nobody knows. The court didn't specify. The understanding is the feds should negotiate some remedy with the MMF to address the fact land wasn't doled out fast enough almost a century and half ago.

It could mean an official apology from the federal government. Maybe a series of speeches from the prime minister. Who knows?

To the MMF and its president David Chartrand, naturally it means buckets full of money. Of course, it's always about the money. The MMF sought whatever declaration it could get from the Supreme Court as political leverage to try to squeeze millions out of taxpayers.

But do taxpayers really owe the Metis anything here? The land, or payment in lieu of land, was granted, albeit in a tardy fashion.

Look, we can't change history. We can clarify history, we can make apologies where necessary, and we can educate ourselves and our children about all the glory and warts of Canadian history. And governments should make good on promises wherever they can.

The provincial and federal government's ongoing commitment to honour treaty land entitlements in Manitoba is a perfect example of making good on promises that were made in the late 1800s.

It's the right thing to do.

But in the case of the Metis, nothing is owed here.


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