Self-Governing Bands and Municipal Governments: Bridging the gap

Two of the hottest topics in Canadian public policy today are the future of local government and aboriginal self-government. AIMS, which has taken a growing interest in both, is delighted to make available this important new commentary on the relationship between these two issues.

John D. Weston, a long-time friend and supporter of AIMS and a prominent BC lawyer, is Lead Counsel for the Chief Mountain Legal Challenge to the new Nisga’a Treaty on Canada’s west coast. In this Keynote Address to the Canadian Institute Conference on Provincial / Municipal Liability, Mr. Weston tackles some of the most contentious public policy issues of our time, and does so energetically and thoughtfully. He argues that aboriginal land claim negotiations, including the benchmark Nisga’a Treaty, are changing not only the map of Canada, but also the legal and perhaps constitutional landscape, including local government.

The concept promoted in the Nisga’a treaty of a third order of government in Canada with independent law-making ability is what Mr. Weston refers to as the New Sovereignty Principle. He outlines the broad and significant implications arising from the creation of a third order of government, including the undermining of human rights protections; the creation of up to 634 new potential governments; new public policy in related areas; new directions for our judiciary; encouragement for Quebec separatism; and dwindling confidence in Canada.

He asks, which law applies? Which courts have jurisdiction? Which dispute resolution processes are to be used? In his talk, Weston also offers specific recommendations to local government and developers that may well find themselves entangled in this “cutting edge” area of law.

Read the full text of Mr. Weston’s address