Statement from the CBA President on fisheries dispute in Nova Scotia

  • November 04, 2020

Canada prides itself on being a nation based on the rule of law.

The Constitution Act 1982 recognizes and affirms existing treaty rights.

In the 1999 Marshall ruling the Supreme Court of Canada held that 1760-61 treaties signed with the Mi’kmaq gave those peoples the right to make a moderate livelihood through hunting and fishing.

“The treaty right is a regulated right and can be contained by regulation within its proper limits.  Catch limits that could reasonably be expected to produce a moderate livelihood for individual Mi’kmaq families at present-day standards can be established by regulation and enforced without violating the treaty right.” – Supreme Court’s 1999 decision in Marshall

In the 21 years since that decision, successive federal governments have failed to negotiate appropriate arrangements with the Mi’kmaq – a failure that has led to clashes between Mi’kmaq fishers seeking to exercise their constitutionally protected treaty rights and non-indigenous fishers seeking to disrupt the exercise of those treaty rights, notably during the Burnt Church crisis in 1999-2002, and the current dispute in southwestern Nova Scotia. The criminal acts, racism and violence which the Mi’kmaq are being targeted with is unacceptable.

The CBA calls on the federal government to protect the Mi’kmaq treaty rights enshrined in the Constitution, and to negotiate with the Mi’kmaq in good faith in accordance with the honour of the Crown the regulation that will help prevent these disputes by setting out clear guidelines. It will assist in ensuring   the continuation of the fishery and the conservation of precious fish stocks.