Corbiere et al. v. Canada (Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs) et al., (1999) 239 N.R. 1 (SCC)

JudgeLamer, C.J.C., L'Heureux-Dubé, Gonthier, Cory, McLachlin, Iacobucci, Major, Bastarache and Binnie, JJ.
CourtSupreme Court (Canada)
Case DateOctober 13, 1998
JurisdictionCanada (Federal)
Citations(1999), 239 N.R. 1 (SCC);[1999] 2 SCR 203;239 NR 1;163 FTR 284;61 CRR (2d) 189;[1999] CarswellNat 663;173 DLR (4th) 1;[1999] 3 CNLR 19;[1999] ACS no 24;[1999] SCJ No 24 (QL);1999 CanLII 687 (SCC)

Corbiere v. Can. (1999), 239 N.R. 1 (SCC)

MLB Headnote and full text

[French language version follows English language version]

[La version française vient à la suite de la version anglaise]

....................

Temp. Cite: [1999] N.R. TBEd. MY.017

Her Majesty the Queen as represented by the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada and the Attorney General of Canada (appellants) and Batchewana Indian Band (appellant) v. John Corbiere, Charlotte Syrette, Claire Robinson and Frank Nolan, each on their own behalf and on behalf of all non-resident members of the Batchewana Band (respondents) and Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto Inc., Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, Lesser Slave Lake Indian Regional Council, Native Women's Association of Canada and United Native Nations Society of British Columbia (interveners)

(25708)

Indexed As: Corbiere et al. v. Canada (Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs) et al.

Supreme Court of Canada

Lamer, C.J.C., L'Heureux-Dubé, Gonthier, Cory, McLachlin, Iacobucci, Major, Bastarache and Binnie, JJ.

May 20, 1999.

Summary:

Section 77(1) of the Indian Act required that a band member be ordinarily resident on the reserve to be eligible to vote in band elections. Four members of the Batchewana Indian Band claimed that s. 77(1) violated s. 15 (the equality provisions) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The Federal Court of Canada, Trial Divi­sion, in a decision reported 67 F.T.R. 81, held that s. 77(1), to a certain extent, viol­ated s. 15 and the violation could not be justified under s. 1 of the Charter. The court, unable to sever the invalid portions of s. 77(1), declared s. 77(1) to be invalid, but suspended the declaration of invalidity. The Crown appealed.

The Federal Court of Appeal, in a decision reported 206 N.R. 85, dismissed the appeal, except for a variation of the remedy granted by the trial judge. The Court of Appeal held that s. 77(1) was contrary to s. 15 and could not be saved by s. 1 of the Charter. The court held, however, that the unusual and special circumstances of this case required the granting of a constitutional exemption as a remedy, rather than a declar­ation of inval­idity. The court ruled that with respect to the Batchewana Band the words "and is ordinar­ily resident on the reserve" within s. 77(1) were of no force and effect because of the inconsistency with s. 15 of the Charter. This judgment was stayed pending an application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada by the Batch­ewana Band (See 206 N.R. 122). Leave to appeal was granted (See 234 N.R. 1).

The Supreme Court of Canada dismissed the appeal. The court however modified the remedy by striking out the words "and is ordinarily resident on the reserve" from s. 77(1) of the Indian Act. The court suspended the implementation of its declaration for 18 months.

Civil Rights - Topic 5646

Equality and protection of the law - Indians - Band elections - Four Batch­ew­ana Indian Band members claimed that the requirement that only band members ordi­narily resident on a reserve were eli­gible to vote in band elec­tions (Indian Act, s. 77(1)) violated s. 15 of the Charter - The Supreme Court of Canada affirmed that s. 77(1) violated the equality rights of off-reserve band mem­bers and could not be saved by s. 1 of the Charter - The court held, inter alia, that "Aboriginality-resi­dence" as it pertained to whether an Ab­original band member lived on or off the reserve was an analogous ground of dis­crimination within the meaning of s. 15 - As a remedy the court struck out the words "and is ordinarily resident on the reserve" from s. 77(1) - The court sus­pended the implementation of its declar­ation for 18 months.

Civil Rights - Topic 8348

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms - Application - Exceptions - Reasonable limits prescribed by law (Charter, s. 1) - [See Civil Rights - Topic 5646 ].

Civil Rights - Topic 8380.8

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms - Denial of rights - Remedies - Constitu­tional exemption - Four Batch­ewana Indian Band members claimed that the require­ment that only band members ordi­narily resident on a reserve were eli­gible to vote in band elec­tions (Indian Act, s. 77(1)) violated s. 15 of the Charter - The Federal Court of Appeal held that s. 77(1) violated the equality rights of off-reserve band mem­bers and could not be saved by s. 1 of the Charter - As a remedy, the Court of Appeal considered that it was preferable to grant the Batchewana Band a constitutional exemption rather than declare s. 77(1) to be unconstitutional - The Supreme Court of Canada disagreed with the remedy granted by the Court of Appeal, and instead struck the words "and is ordinarily resident on the reserve" out of s. 77(1) - See paragraphs 22 to 24.

Civil Rights - Topic 8672

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms - Equality rights (s. 15) - Analogous cat­egories - [See Civil Rights - Topic 5646 ].

Civil Rights - Topic 8672

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms - Equality rights (s. 15) - Analogous cat­egories - The Supreme Court of Canada discussed the approach to be followed in defining analogous grounds and referred to the criteria to be used to identify a ground of distinction as analogous - See para­graphs 1 to 13.

Civil Rights - Topic 8672

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms - Equality rights (s. 15) - Analogous cat­egories - The Supreme Court of Canada rejected the suggestion that the same ground of discrimination may or may not be analogous depending on the circum­stances of the case - It is not the ground that varies from case to case, but the de­termination of whether a distinction on the basis of a constitutionally cognizable ground is discriminatory - The court stated for example, that if "aboriginality-resi­dence" is an analogous ground, which the court held that it was, then it must always stand as a constant marker of potential legislative discrimination, whether the challenge is to a governmental tax credit, a voting right or a pension scheme - See paragraphs 4 to 10.

Civil Rights - Topic 8672

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms - Equality rights (s. 15) - Analogous cat­egories - The Supreme Court of Canada held that "Aboriginality-residence" as it pertained to whether an Aboriginal band member lived on or off the reserve was an analogous ground with the meaning of s. 15 of the Charter - Respecting this new analogous ground the court stated that "... reserve status should not be confused with residence. The ordinary 'residence' deci­sions faced by the average Canadians should not be confused with the profound decisions Aboriginal band members make to live on or off their reserves, assuming choice is possible. The reality of their situation is unique and complex. Thus no new water is charted, in the sense of find­ing residence, in the generalized abstract, to be an analogous ground" - See para­graph 15.

Civil Rights - Topic 8672

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms - Equality rights (s. 15) - Analogous cat­egories - The Supreme Court of Canada held that "Aboriginality-residence" as it pertained to whether an Aboriginal band member lived on or off the reserve was an analogous ground with the meaning of s. 15 of the Charter - Respecting this new analogous ground the court stated that "we note that the analogous ground of off-reserve status or Aboriginality-residence is limited to a subset of the Canadian popu­lation, while s. 15 is directed to everyone. In our view, this is no impediment to its inclusion as an analogous ground under s. 15. Its demographic limitation is no dif­ferent, for example, from pregnancy, which is a distinct, but fundamentally interrelated form of discrimination from gender. 'Em­bedded' analogous grounds may be necess­ary to permit meaningful consideration of intra-group discrimination." - See para­graph 15.

Constitutional Law - Topic 2505

Determination of validity of statutes or acts - General principles - Doctrine of constitu­tional exemption - [See Civil Rights - Topic 8380.8 ].

Indians, Inuit and Métis - Topic 6024

Aboriginal rights - Particular rights - Right to determine membership of band (incl. voting eligibility) - [See Civil Rights - Topic 5646 ].

Indians, Inuit and Métis - Topic 6245

Government - Elections - Qualifications to vote - Residency on reserve - [See Civil Rights - Topic 5646 ].

Cases Noticed:

Law v. Minister of Employment and Im­migration (1999), 236 N.R. 1 (S.C.C.), refd to. [paras. 3, 55].

R. v. Turpin, Siddiqui and Clauzel, [1989] 1 S.C.R. 1296; 96 N.R. 115; 34 O.A.C. 115, refd to. [paras. 9, 67].

Egan and Nesbit v. Canada, [1995] 2 S.C.R. 513; 182 N.R. 161, refd to. [paras. 21, 59].

Schachter v. Canada et al., [1992] 2 S.C.R. 679; 139 N.R. 1, refd to. [paras. 22, 110].

Rodriguez v. British Columbia (Attorney General) et al., [1993] 3 S.C.R. 519; 158 N.R. 1; 34 B.C.A.C. 1; 56 W.A.C. 1, refd to. [paras. 22, 111].

Andrews v. Law Society of British Col­umbia, [1989] 1 S.C.R. 143; 91 N.R. 255, refd to. [para. 32].

R. v. Van der Peet (D.M.), [1996] 2 S.C.R. 507; 200 N.R. 1; 80 B.C.A.C. 81; 130 W.A.C. 81, refd to. [para. 37].

Bisaillon v. Keable et al., [1983] 2 S.C.R. 60; 51 N.R. 81, refd to. [para. 48].

Benner v. Canada (Secretary of State), [1997] 1 S.C.R. 358; 208 N.R. 81, refd to. [para. 48].

Miron and Valliere v. Trudel et al., [1995] 2 S.C.R. 418; 181 N.R. 253; 81 O.A.C. 253, refd to. [para. 60].

Vriend et al. v. Alberta, [1998] 1 S.C.R. 493; 224 N.R. 1; 212 A.R. 237; 168 W.A.C. 237, refd to. [para. 60].

Canada (Attorney General) v. Lavell, [1974] S.C.R. 1349, refd to. [para. 87].

R. v. Oakes, [1986] 1 S.C.R. 103; 65 N.R. 87; 14 O.A.C. 335, refd to. [para. 97].

Eldridge et al. v. British Columbia (Attor­ney General), [1997] 3 S.C.R. 624; 218 N.R. 161; 96 B.C.A.C. 81; 155 W.A.C. 81, refd to. [para. 97].

N.H. et al. v. H.M. et al. (1999), 238 N.R. 80 (S.C.C.), refd to. [para. 97].

Thomson Newspapers Co. et al. v. Canada (Attorney General), [1998] 1 S.C.R. 877; 226 N.R. 1; 109 O.A.C. 201, refd to. [para. 98].

Osborne, Millar and Barnhart et al. v. Canada (Treasury Board) et al., [1991] 2 S.C.R. 69; 125 N.R. 241, refd to. [para. 110].

R. v. Videoflicks Ltd. et al., [1986] 2 S.C.R. 713; 71 N.R. 161; 19 O.A.C. 239, refd to. [para. 111].

Edwards Books and Art Ltd. v. R. - see R. v. Videoflicks Ltd. et al.

R. v. Edwards Books and Art Ltd. - see R. v. Videoflicks Ltd. et al.

R. v. Seaboyer and Gayme, [1991] 2 S.C.R. 577; 128 N.R. 81; 48 O.A.C. 81, refd to. [para. 111].

R. v. Sparrow, [1990] 1 S.C.R. 1075; 111 N.R. 24l, refd to. [para. 112].

Reference Re Secession of Quebec, [1998] 2 S.C.R. 217; 228 N.R. 203, refd to. [para. 116].

Reference Re Remuneration of Judges of the Provincial Court (P.E.I.), [1998] 1 S.C.R. 3; 223 N.R. 21; 212 A.R. 161; 168 W.A.C. 161; 126 Man.R.(2d) 96; 167 W.A.C. 96; 161 Nfld. & P.E.I.R. 124; 497 A.P.R. 124, refd to. [para. 122].

Statutes Noticed:

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, sect. 1, sect. 15(1), sect. 24(1) [para. 31]; sect. 25 [para. 51].

Constitution Act, 1982, sect. 35 [para. 51]; sect. 52 [para. 31].

Indian Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. I-5, sect. 2(1), sect. 20(1), sect. 38(1), sect. 39(1), sect. 64(1), sect. 66(1), sect. 69(1), sect. 74(1), sect. 75(1), sect. 77(1), sect. 77(2), sect. 81(1), sect. 83, sect. 85.1(1) [para. 31].

Indian Act, S.C. 1951, c. 29, sect. 2(1)(e) [para. 19]; sect. 12, sect. 14 [para. 86]; sect. 76(1) [para. 29].

Indian Act, an Act to amend the, S.C. 1985, c. 27, generally [para. 19].

Indian Act, R.S.C. 1906, c. 81, sect. 172(b) [para. 29].

Indian Act, R.S.C. 1927, c. 98, sect. 51(2), sect. 163(a) [para. 29].

Indian Act, Act for the gradual enfran­chisement of Indians, S.C. 1869, c. 6, generally [para. 86].

Indian Act Regulations (Can.), Indian Bands Council Elections Order, SOR/97-138, generally [para. 26].

Indian Advancement Act, S.C. 1884, c. 28, sect. 5 [para. 29].

Indian Advancement Act, R.S.C. 1886, c. 44, sect. 5(1) [para. 29].

Indian and Ordinance Lands Act, S.C. 1868, c. 42, sect. 8(1) [para. 29].

Indian Bands Council Elections Order - see Indian Act Regulations (Can.).

Indian Tribes, Act to encourage the grad­ual Civilization of, S. Prov. C. 1857, 20 Vict., c. 26, generally [para. 86].

Rules of the Supreme Court of Canada, SOR/83-74, rule 32 [para. 31].

Authors and Works Noticed:

Canada, Indian and Northern Affairs, Impacts of the 1985 Amendments to the Indian Act (Bill C-31): Summary Report (1990), generally [para. 86].

Canada, Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, Report of the Royal Commis­sion on Aboriginal Peoples (1996), vol. 1, Looking Forward, Looking Back, pp. 137 to 191 [paras. 17, 83]; vol. 4, Per­spectives and Realities, pp. 26, 27 [para. 86]; 49 [para. 75]; 519 [para. 71]; 521 [para. 17]; 522 [para. 82]; 525 [para. 17]; 575, 576 [para. 84].

Crane, Brian A., and Brown, Henry S., Supreme Court of Canada Practice 1998, p. 225 [para. 49].

Gilbert, Larry, Entitlement to Indian Status and Membership Codes in Canada (1996), pp. 23 to 30 [para. 88].

Hogg, Peter W., and Bushell, Allison A., The Charter Dialogue Between Courts and Legislatures (Or Perhaps The Charter Of Rights Isn't Such A Bad Thing After All) (1997), 35 Osgoode Hall L.J. 75, generally [para. 116].

Manitoba, Public Inquiry into the Admin­istration of Justice and Aboriginal People, Report, vol. 1 (1991), pp. 476 to 479 [para. 86].

Roach, Kent, Constitutional Remedies in Canada (1994), pp. 14-85, 14-86 [para. 123].

Counsel:

John B. Edmond, for the appellant Her Majesty the Queen;

William B. Henderson and Derek T. Ground, for the appellant the Batche­wana Indian Band;

Gary E. Corbière and Michael Feindel, for the respondents;

Kent Roach and Kimberly R. Murray, for the intervener Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto Inc.;

Mervin C. Phillips and Robert A. Milen, for the intervener the Congress of Abo­riginal Peoples;

Philip P. Healey, Martin J. Henderson and Catherine M. Twinn, for the intervener the Lesser Slave Lake Indian Regional Council;

Mary Eberts and Lucy McSweeney, for the intervener the Native Women's Associ­ation of Canada;

Sharon D. McIvor and Teressa Nahanee, for the intervener the United Native Nations Society of British Columbia.

Solicitors of Record:

George Thomson, Ottawa, Ontario, for the appellant Her Majesty the Queen;

William B. Henderson, Toronto, Ontario, for the appellant the Batchewana Indian Band;

Gary E. Corbière, Garden River, Ontario, for the respondents;

Kent Roach and Kimberly R. Murray, Toronto, Ontario, for the intervener Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto Inc.;

Phillips & Milen, Regina, Saskatchewan, for the intervener the Congress of Abo­riginal Peoples;

Catherine M. Twinn, Slave Lake, Alberta, for the intervener the Lesser Slave Lake Indian Regional Council;

Eberts Symes Street & Corbett, Toronto, Ontario, for the intervener the Native Women's Association of Canada;

McIvor Nahanee Law Office, Merritt, British Columbia, for the intervener the United Native Nations Society of British Columbia.

This appeal was heard on October 13, 1998, before Lamer, C.J.C., L'Heureux-Dubé, Gonthier, Cory, McLachlin, Iacobucci, Major, Bastarache and Binnie, JJ., of the Supreme Court of Canada. The decision of the court was delivered in both official languages on May 20, 1999, including the following opinions:

McLachlin and Bastarache, JJ. (Lamer, C.J.C., Cory and Major, JJ., concur­ring) - see paragraphs 1 to 24;

L'Heureux-Dubé, J., concurring reasons (Gonthier, Iacobucci and Binnie, JJ., concurring) - see paragraphs 25 to 126.

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