First Nations vow legal challenge of anti-terror bill

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First Nations vow legal challenge of anti-terror bill

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde: 'This is not an abstract argument for our people.'
AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde: ‘This is not an abstract argument for our people.’The Canadian Press

Canada’s First Nations will challenge the constitutionality of Bill C-51 unless the Conservatives withdraw the divisive security legislation and consult aboriginals before drafting any new bill, the head of the Assembly of First Nations vowed Thursday.

“We want the whole bill gone,” AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde told reporters after testifying at a turbulent House of Commons committee on the proposed omnibus bill, which would give extraordinary powers to federal spies, government departments and the RCMP to thwart national security threats.

The authorization to launch a Supreme Court challenge would first need the permission of AFN chiefs.

Bellegarde said the government has created grounds for a court action by not meeting its so-called “duty to consult” when its actions could adversely affect potential or established aboriginal or treaty rights enshrined in the Constitution. The common-law duty was upheld in Supreme Court decisions in 2004 and 2005.

“Unfortunately, the process for developing this legislation did not meet the federal government’s duty to consult and accommodate and on that point alone is subject to challenge in the courts if the government tries to impose it on us,” said Bellegarde, elected national chief in December. “We had no input at all.” Read More…

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