A history lesson plays out with treaty trial.

Author:Atkins, Michael
Position:President's Note
 
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As I write, our prime minister has just returned from his costume party tour of India and bully boy Trump has threatened massive tariffs on Canadian aluminum and steel products, while denying his relationship with a porn star with whom he has a confidentiality agreement, and announced he was going for an all-inclusive holiday tour of North Korea to talk nukes.

Not to be outdone, the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario has just wound up its abbreviated leadership contest by sending its faithful home early on the day of reckoning because they neglected to rent out the hall for a full day, somehow not anticipating they would be unable to count votes in the time allotted. Happily, by 10 o'clock (about the same time of night their previous leader a month earlier had gone running from Queen's Park after announcing he had been accused of sexual improprieties), the party announced Doug Ford the winner to the shock and amazement of Christine Elliott, who won more votes and more ridings but somehow managed to lose for the third time in a row (see Hillary Clinton for therapy).

It would be funny if it wasn't so scary.

In stark contrast to these flights of madness and instability that seem to be the norm in the political sphere, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice is proceeding with a welcome air of serenity to consider a case of great importance to Northern Ontario.

It has to do with the terms and conditions of the Robinson-Huron Treaty of 1850. At that time, 24 First Nations entered into two treaties with Mr. William Robinson, who was appointed by the Crown to negotiate a surrender of their territorial land north of the north shore of Lake Superior and north of the north shore of Lake Huron.

Not surprisingly, it has to do with whether the governments of Ontario and Canada have fulfilled their part of the bargain.

The Crown agreed to an annual annuity.

The last adjustment to this payment was in 1874.

It currently stands at $4 per capita paid to the beneficiaries of the treaties, and to this day government representatives give out toonies to those First Nations people who show up for this odd, some would say demeaning, ritual.

The plaintiffs assert much more than $4 per person is owed to them. The minimum is that the annuity should have been indexed from the time of execution, but the more fulsome expectation is that these First Nations are owed a share of the net wealth that has been generated from these lands they gave up...

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