Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench Upholds MNA Special Resolutions

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TO: Métis Nation of Alberta (MNA) Citizens, Locals, Regions, and Provincial Council

FROM: Audrey Poitras, MNA President

DATE: August 3, 2018

RE: Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench Upholds MNA Special Resolutions on the Authorization from its Members regarding Negotiating Modern Day Treaty and Crown Consultation

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As a follow up to my previous memo on this issue, I am pleased to report that on July 20, 2018, the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench completely rejected the lawsuit initiated by one MNA citizen against the MNA with respect to two special resolutions duly passed by the 2016 MNA Annual Assembly. As well, the MNA has been awarded costs against this individual totaling over $40,000.00.

The Lawsuit Against the MNA

As you may recall, in November 2016, this individual started his lawsuit in his personal capacity (i.e., on behalf of himself and no one else).  Specifically, this individual challenged the passage of the following two special resolutions at the 2016 Annual Assembly:

  • Special Resolution #1 clarified and added the goal of negotiating a modern-day treaty with the Crown to the MNA Bylaws. 
  • Special Resolution #2 updated the MNA’s oath of membership to provide further clarity that the MNA—which includes its Regions and Locals—is duly authorized to advance the collectively-held rights and claims of its citizens. 

These two special resolutions were passed in response to the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in Daniels v. Canada as well as Alberta court decisions dealing with the Crown’s duty to consult.  They passed with the overwhelming support from those in attendance at the 2016 MNA Annual General Assembly. 

Following their passage, the MNA mailed out over 33,000 notices to all of our citizens making them aware of these developments.  Since that time, not a single MNA citizen has withdrawn their citizenship.  In fact, every month, MNA citizenship grows as do the number of applications we receive.

The Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench Decision

The Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench dismissed the lawsuit against the MNA in its entirety.  It found that the two special resolutions were not unlawful.  As such, the special resolutions and the changes to the MNA Bylaws remain in force.

In upholding the special resolutions, the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench held,

[19] In sum, the Association represents its registered members on the terms and for the purposes set out in the bylaws.

The Court found that when reading the MNA Bylaws as a whole, in their proper context, that the special resolutions were reasonable and proper.

[38] This oath of membership is properly limited to the Association and members of the Association, and allows the Association to assert a representative capacity on behalf of the members of the Association; it does not impede other Métis groups from also asserting representative capacity for other Métis persons, for other purposes, at other times.

The Court further held that, given the above findings, the complaints of the Applicant with respect to the special resolutions could not stand and the special resolutions are lawful.

[41] This reasonable and proper interpretation of both special resolutions puts to rest almost all of the objections made by Mr. McCargar. These special resolutions do not purport to take away his rights as a member of other Métis communities, associations and organizations, to interfere with the role of the Métis National Council or the Métis Settlements, Settlement Councils, Métis Settlements General Council, and Métis Settlements Appeal Tribunal pursuant to the Métis Settlement Act, RSA 2000, c M-14.

The Implications of the Decision

This decision affirms that the MNA—through these two valid special resolutions—is authorized by its members to move forward on negotiating a modern-day treaty with the Crown, as well as Crown consultation, on behalf of its members and Métis communities. 

Notably, on July 19, 2018, the MNA signed a Consultation Agreement with Canada.  This agreement recognizes that the federal Crown has a duty to consult the MNA, which includes its Regional Councils and Locals.  This was a significant breakthrough federally!

In addition, this court decision will further assist us in our discussions with Alberta on the development of a Métis Consultation Policy.

Contrary to the false media reports by the “Fort McKay Métis”, this decision is a complete victory for the MNA.  The MNA is unquestionably a Métis Nation government. We are—and have always been—a Métis Nation government based on the mandate we receive from our citizens. 

With that said, our self-government has not always been recognized by other governments or the courts.  This is why we are engaged in self-government negotiations with Canada through our Framework Agreement.  We want to finally have our self-government recognized! 

This court decision simply recognizes that we are still using Alberta’s Societies Act and an “association” as our legal and administrative arm—until we achieve a negotiated self-government agreement with Canada—that moves us from an “association” to a recognized Indigenous government in law.

It is truly disappointing that some of our own people feel it is politically convenient to publicly diminish our Métis Nation self-government as a “club” when the vast majority of our own people, Canada, Alberta and others see us as a government.     

Conclusion

I hope this update is informative and addresses the questions some MNA citizens have raised.  For those who would like additional information, copies of the court’s decision on these issues are available by visiting this website

You can find a PDF copy of the Court’s Decision here: Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench Decision on MNA Special Resolutions

You can also find a a detailed case summary for the recent Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench Decision on the MNA Special Resolutions here: PST LLP Case Summary – McCargar v Metis Nation of Alberta