Quebec (Attorney-General) v. Moses

Supreme Court of Canada – [2010] 1 S.C.R 557

Quebec ConsultationEnvironmental assessmentTreaties

Summary

Because of this decision, both federal and provincial environmental assessment processes must be conducted in some cases, sometimes resulting in duplication.

The Court addresses the interpretation of modern treaties such as the James Bay Northern Quebec Agreement. It concludes that since they resemble modern contracts a lot more than historical treaties, they should not be interpreted with the same liberal rules.

Issue

Does the JBNQA exempt a mining project within its territory from an independent environmental assessment inquiry by the federal government?


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Whitfield v. Canadian Marconi Company

Supreme Court of Canada – [1968], 68 D.L.R. (2d) 766

Quebec Discrimination

Summary

This case is not related to aboriginal law per se, but shows how the social context surrounding aboriginal people was particular only not so long ago. A man was forbidden to engage in a relationship with an Aboriginal woman or he would lose his job – he did anyway, and lost his job, and lost his case.

Issue

Did the disposition prohibiting fraternizing and associating with Inuit and Crees in Whitfield’s contract violated his right to liberty and his freedom of assembly and association both protected by the Canadian Bill of Right?


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Jones v. Fraser

Supreme Court of Canada – [1886] 13 S.C.R. 342

Quebec Family lawSeigniorial lawSuccession

Summary

The Court considered a customary marriage, but did not decide on it. The 1869 decision in Johnstone v. Connolly remained the reference.

Issue

Was the marriage between Alexander Fraser and Angelique Meadows valid?

Was Alexander Fraser’s will revoke at Marguerite Jones’ death?


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Dubé v. Canada

Supreme Court of Canada – [2011] 2 S.C.R. 764

Quebec Indian ActTaxation

Summary

This case was delivered on the same day as Bastien. It determines the location of immaterial personal property relative to a reserve. The tax exemption applies to all personal property of an Indian situated on any reserve, and not one reserve in particular.

Issue

Is interest earned on term deposits considered to be “personal property of an Indian situated on a reserve” to the effect that it is exempt from taxation?


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Bastien Estate v. Canada

Supreme Court of Canada – [2011] 2 S.C.R. 710

Quebec Indian ActTaxation

Summary

This case was delivered on the same day as Dubé. It determines the location of immaterial personal property relative to a reserve. If the location is determined to be on the reserve, the interest income generated from the personal property is also located on the reserve and is exempt from taxation.

Issue

Is the interest income earned by Bastien’s term deposits at the the Caisse populaire Desjardins du Village Huron (Wendake) considered to be “personal property of an Indian situated on a reserve” to the effect that it is exempt from taxation?


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Mitchell v. M.N.R.

Supreme Court of Canada – [2001] 1 S.C.R. 911

Quebec Aboriginal rightsGovernance (self-determination, self-government)Trade

Summary

This was a test case of the Akwesasne Mohawks’ right to carry goods across the border between Canada and the United States without having to pay customs duties because of an aboriginal right to trade on this axis. The Court unanimously rejected this possibility, guided in part by considerations of sovereignty and foreign relations.

Issue

Do the Akwesasne Mohawks hold an aboriginal right which exempts them from paying customs duties on US merchandise brought into Canada? If so, what is the nature of this right?


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R. v. Côté

Supreme Court of Canada – [1996] 3 S.C.R. 139

Quebec Aboriginal rightsFiduciary dutySeigniorial law

Summary

This case was delivered on the same day as Adams. It confirms that it is not necessary to prove the existence of an aboriginal title in order to demonstrate the existence of valid aboriginal rights.

The Court tries to standardize its aboriginal rights doctrine across Canada by refusing to impose different recognition rules according to a French or British colonial past.

As in Adams, the Court asks government’s representatives to use discretionary ministerial powers in a clear and framed way in order to avoid any infringement of aboriginal rights.

Issue

Can the accused claim an aboriginal or treaty right protected by the Constitution Act, 1982 allowing them to fish on their Quebec territory, formerly part of a French colony? If so, does the provincial regulation infringe on that right?


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R. v. Adams

Supreme Court of Canada – [1996] 3 S.C.R. 101

Quebec Aboriginal rightsAboriginal titleSeigniorial law

Summary

This case was delivered on the same day as Côté. The Court found that aboriginal rights could exist independently from the existence of an exclusive aboriginal title.

Issue

Can we consider land claims as a type of Aboriginal rights claims or are Aboriginal rights rooted in claims to the land?


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Francis v. The Queen

Supreme Court of Canada – [1956] S.C.R. 618

Quebec Application of laws to AboriginalsInternational lawTaxationTreaties

Summary

This is a test case of the Mohawk to determine the application of article III of the Jay Treaty, signed by the British Crown and the United States. This article provides that the Indians should not pay duty fees when crossing the boundary with goods.

The Supreme Court rejected the application of the Jay Treaty, affirming that it must be ratified by statute in order to enter into force in Canada.

The Mitchell case, in 2001, complemented this decision. The argument made regarding Aboriginal rights of the Mohawk to cross the boundary without paying duty was not accepted by the Court.

Issue

Do Mohawks from the St. Regis Band have a right to exception from customs and excise taxes protected by the Jay Treaty or the Indian Act?


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Reference whether “Indians” includes “Eskimo”

Supreme Court of Canada – [1939] S.C.R. 104 – “Re Eskimo”

Quebec IdentityJurisdiction over Indians

Summary

This decision confirmed that the Inuit are considered as “Indians” within the meaning of the Constitution and therefore fall under federal jurisdiction.

Issue

Does the term “Indians” in sect. 91 (24) of the British North America Act include the Inuit living in Northern Quebec?


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