Press Release: Nisga’a “Chief Mountain” will appeal to BC Court of Appeal

Press Release: Nisga’a “Chief Mountain” will appeal to BC Court of Appeal

Vancouver, BC: The Canadian Constitution Foundation (CCF) today announced that its clients Chief Mountain and Mercy Thomas will appeal the October 19th decision of the BC Supreme Court, which declined to set aside the self-government provisions of the Nisga’a Treaty.

The BC Supreme Court dismissed the lawsuit by Chief Mountain and Mercy Thomas, which claimed that the Nisga’a Treaty set up a third order of government, giving the Nisga’a lawmaking and self-government powers that do not comply with the Canadian constitution.

Appealing this decision presents an opportunity for the BC Court of Appeal to deal with the main issues of this case on the merits. On the basis of precedent, Justice Lynn Smith of the BC Supreme Court followed the 2000 judgment of the BC Supreme Court in the Campbell case. In that case, former BC Premier Gordon Campbell and two former BC Attorneys General challenged the Nisga’a Treaty’s approach to aboriginal government as a “recipe for chaos”.

CCF Executive Director Chris Schafer said, “The issues raised by this appeal go far beyond the interests of our clients. They stand to impact land developers, resource companies, and ultimately every Canadian. The case further highlights the important role courts must play on behalf of the public when, through political compromise, fundamental rules of the Constitution are ignored”.

Schafer added, “The Nisga’a treaty creates almost a separate country within Canada, contrary to our Constitution”.