Osoyoos Indian Band v. Oliver (Town) et al., 2001 SCC 85

JudgeMcLachlin, C.J.C., L'Heureux-Dubé, Gonthier, Iacobucci, Major, Bastarache, Binnie, Arbour and LeBel, JJ.
CourtSupreme Court (Canada)
Case DateDecember 07, 2001
JurisdictionCanada (Federal)
Citations2001 SCC 85;(2001), 278 N.R. 201 (SCC);160 BCAC 171;[2002] 1 CNLR 271;45 RPR (3d) 1;[2002] 1 WWR 23;206 DLR (4th) 385;278 NR 201;[2001] SCJ No 82 (QL);95 BCLR (3d) 22;[2001] 3 SCR 746

Osoyoos Indian Band v. Oliver (2001), 278 N.R. 201 (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: [2001] N.R. TBEd. DE.005

Osoyoos Indian Band (appellant) v. The Town of Oliver and Her Majesty The Queen in Right of the Province of British Columbia (respondents) and The Attorney General of Canada and The Squamish Indian Band (intervenors)

(27408; 2001 SCC 85)

Indexed As: Osoyoos Indian Band v. Oliver (Town) et al.

Supreme Court of Canada

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

December 7, 2001.

Summary:

A concrete irrigation canal crossed a reserve. A 1957 federal Order-in-Council under s. 35 of the Indian Act transferred an interest in the 56.09 acres of land to the province. There was no formal expropriation. In 1994, the Indian band passed a bylaw under s. 83(1)(a) of the Indian Act for the purpose of taxing land or an interest in land in the reserve. At issue was whether the lands occupied by the canal were taxable by the band. Two questions were put to the Supreme Court by way of stated case: "(1) Are lands, taken pursuant to s. 35 of the Indian Act, 'land or interests in land' in a reserve of a Band within the meaning of s. 83(1)(a) of the Indian Act such that those lands are assessable and taxable pursuant to Band Assessment Bylaws and taxable pursu­ant to Band Taxation Bylaws? (2) If s. 35 of the Indian Act authorizes the removal of lands from reserve status, does federal Order in Council 1957-577, by which the Lands were transferred, remove the Lands from reserve status so that they are not assessable and taxable by the Osoyoos Indian Band?".

The British Columbia Supreme Court, in a judgment reported [1997] B.C.T.C. Uned. 479, answered no to the first question and yes to the second. The Order-in-Council unambiguously transferred the fee simple absolute to the province (i.e., the land itself, not merely an easement or right of way), removing the lands from the reserve and beyond the band's jurisdiction to tax under s. 83(1)(a). The band appealed.

The British Columbia Court of Appeal, Lambert, J.A., dissenting, in a judgment re­ported 122 B.C.A.C. 220; 200 W.A.C. 220, dismissed the appeal. The band appealed.

The Supreme Court of Canada, L'Heureux-Dubé, Gonthier, Major and Bastarache, JJ., dissenting, allowed the appeal. The Order-in-Council transferred only an easement, not the fee simple. Ac­cordingly, the canal lands remained land "in the reserve" and subject to taxation.

Indians, Inuit and Métis - Topic 3

General - Duty owed to Indians by Crown - The Supreme Court of Canada stated that "the fiduciary duty of the Crown is not restricted to instances of surrender. Section 35 [Indian Act] clearly permits the Gov­ernor in Council to allow the use of reserve land for public purposes. However, once it has been determined that an expro­priation of Indian lands is in the public interest, a fiduciary duty arises on the part of the Crown to expropriate or grant only the minimum interest required in order to fulfil that public purpose, thus ensuring a minimal impairment of the use and enjoy­ment of Indian lands by the band. ... This two-step process minimizes any inconsist­ency between the Crown's public duty to expropriate lands and its fiduciary duty to Indians whose lands are affected by the expropriation. In the first stage, the Crown acts in the public interest in determining that an expropriation involving Indian lands is required in order to fulfil some public purpose. At this stage, no fiduciary duty exists. However, once the general decision to expropriate has been made, the fiduciary obligations on the Crown arise, requiring the Crown to expropriate an interest that will fulfil the public purpose while preserving the Indian interest in the land to the greatest extent possible. ... the Crown's fiduciary duty ... includes the general obligation, wherever appropriate, to protect a sufficient Indian interest in expro­priated land in order to preserve the taxa­tion jurisdiction of the band over the land, thus ensuring a continued ability to earn income from the land." - See para­graphs 52 to 55.

Indians, Inuit and Métis - Topic 5430

Lands - Transfer of lands - Scope of inter­est transferred or taken - Section 35 of the Indian Act empowered the provin­cial Crown, with the consent of the federal Crown, to take reserve lands for public purposes - Section 35 authorized the taking or use of a range of interests in land, up to and including a fee simple interest - The Supreme Court of Canada held that a province was only empowered to take or use land that it could take under provincial legislation; it could not take a greater interest under s. 35 than it could take under the provincial legislation - Neither the province nor the federal Crown could do an "end run" around the limita­tion on provincial powers of expro­priation and grant an interest greater than the one the province was entitled to take under its own legislation - See paragraphs 58 to 62.

Indians, Inuit and Métis - Topic 5430

Lands - Transfer of lands - Scope of inter­est transferred or taken - Since 1925, a concrete irrigation canal bisected a reserve - In 1957, a federal Order-in-Council under s. 35 of the Indian Act transferred the 56.09 acres of reserve land to the province - There was no formal expropri­ation - An Indian band bylaw under s. 83(1)(a) of the Indian Act pro­vided for the taxation of all land or inter­ests in land "in the reserve" - At issue was whether the canal lands were taxable (easement trans­ferred) or whether the lands were removed from the reserve (fee simple transferred) - The Supreme Court of Canada held that "the Order in Council is ambiguous as to the nature of the inter­est transferred. It does not evince a clear and plain intent to ex­tinguish the Band's inter­est in the reserve land. An interpreta­tion of the in­strument as granting only an ease­ment over or right to use the canal lands is both plausible and consistent with the policies of the Indian Act relating to tax­ation (s. 83(1)(a)) and expropriation (s. 35). This interpretation is consistent with the mini­mal impairment of the Band's interest in reserve land. Ac­cordingly, I find that the Order in Council effected a grant of an easement over the land occupied by the canal and did not take away the whole of the Band's interest in the reserve." - Ac­cordingly, the canal lands were taxable - See para­graphs 66 to 90.

Indians, Inuit and Métis - Topic 5481

Lands - Expropriation - General - [See both Indians, Inuit and Métis - Topic 5430 ].

Indians, Inuit and Métis - Topic 5492

Lands - Taxation by Bands - Assessment - Lands subject to - [See second Indians, Inuit and Métis - Topic 5430 ].

Indians, Inuit and Métis - Topic 5492

Lands - Taxation by Bands - Assessment - Lands subject to - Section 83(1)(a) of the Indian Act empowered Indian bands to pass bylaws taxing "land", "interests in land" and the "rights to occupy, possess or use land" - The only limitation on the taxing power was that the land must be "in the reserve" - The Supreme Court of Canada stated that "unless the entire inter­est of a band is removed, land remains in the reserve for the purposes of s. 83(1)(a) and both easements and rights to use or occupy land held by non-band members are subject to the taxation jurisdiction." - See paragraphs 48 to 50.

Indians, Inuit and Métis - Topic 5503

Lands - Reserves - Duties of Crown re - [See Indians, Inuit and Métis - Topic 3 ].

Indians, Inuit and Métis - Topic 5506

Lands - Reserves - Nature of Indian inter­est in - The Supreme Court of Canada stated that "the features common to both aboriginal interest in reserve land and aboriginal title include the facts that both interests are inalienable except to the Crown, both are rights of use and occupa­tion, and both are held communally. Thus, it is now firmly established that both types of native land rights are sui generis inter­ests in the land that are distinct from 'nor­mal' proprietary interests ... Native land rights are in a category of their own. There are three implications that follow from the nature of the aboriginal interest in reserve lands ... First, it is clear that traditional principles of the common law relating to property may not be helpful in the context of aboriginal interests in land ... the prin­ciple that it is inappropriate to apply com­mon law real property rules to Indian lands was developed because of the sui generis nature of aboriginal interests in land. ... Second, it follows from the sui generis nature of the aboriginal interest in reserve land and the definition of 'reserve' in the Indian Act that an Indian band cannot unilaterally add or replace reserve lands. The intervention of the Crown is required. In this respect, reserve land does not fit neatly within the traditional rationale that underlies the process of compulsory tak­ings in exchange for compensation in the amount of the market value of the land plus expenses. ... Third, it is clear that an aboriginal interest in land is more than just a fungible commodity. ... Land may be removed from a reserve with the participa­tion of the Crown, which owes a fiduciary duty to the band ... it follows that a clear and plain intention must be present in order to conclude that land has been removed from a reserve." - See paragraphs 42 to 47.

Cases Noticed:

Nowegijick v. Minister of National Rev­enue et al., [1983] 1 S.C.R. 29; 46 N.R. 41, refd to. [para. 31].

Mitchell and Milton Management Ltd. v. Peguis Indian Band et al., [1990] 2 S.C.R. 85; 110 N.R. 241; 67 Man.R.(2d) 81, refd to. [para. 31].

Semiahmoo Indian Band et al. v. Canada, [1998] 1 F.C. 3; 215 N.R. 241 (F.C.A.), refd to. [para. 31].

R. v. Sparrow, [1990] 1 S.C.R. 1075; 111 N.R. 241, refd to. [para. 31].

Blueberry River Indian Band and Doig River Indian Band v. Canada (Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Develop­ment), [1995] 4 S.C.R. 344; 190 N.R. 89, refd to. [para. 31].

St. Mary's Indian Band et al. v. Cranbrook (City), [1997] 2 S.C.R. 657; 213 N.R. 290; 92 B.C.A.C. 161; 150 W.A.C. 161, refd to. [para. 31].

St. Catherine's Milling and Lumber Co. v. R. (1888), 14 App. Cas. 46 (P.C.), refd to. [para. 41].

Canada v. Smith and Ontario (Attorney General) et al., [1983] 1 S.C.R. 554; 47 N.R. 132, refd to. [para. 41].

Guerin v. Canada, [1984] 2 S.C.R. 335; 55 N.R. 161, refd to. [para. 41].

Delgamuukw et al. v. British Columbia et al., [1997] 3 S.C.R. 1010; 220 N.R. 161; 99 B.C.A.C. 161; 162 W.A.C. 161, refd to. [para. 41].

Canadian Pacific Ltd. v. Matsqui Indian Band et al. (1998), 228 N.R. 378; 162 D.L.R.(4th) 649 (F.C.A.), refd to. [para. 47].

Calder v. Attorney General of British Columbia, [1973] S.C.R. 313, refd to. [para. 47].

BC Tel v. Seabird Island Indian Band, [2000] 4 F.C. 350; 192 F.T.R. 55 (T.D.), refd to. [para. 47].

Opetchesaht Indian Band et al. v. Canada et al., [1997] 2 S.C.R. 119; 211 N.R. 241; 90 B.C.A.C. 1; 147 W.A.C. 1, refd to. [para. 54].

R. v. Gladstone (W.) et al., [1996] 2 S.C.R. 723; 200 N.R. 189; 79 B.C.A.C. 161; 129 W.A.C. 161, refd to. [para. 57].

Canadian Pacific Ltd. v. Paul et al., [1988] 2 S.C.R. 654; 89 N.R. 325; 91 N.B.R.(2d) 43; 232 A.P.R. 43, refd to. [para. 65].

Burrard Power Co. v. R. (1910), 43 S.C.R. 27, refd to. [para. 78].

Tener and Tener v. British Columbia, [1985] 1 S.C.R. 533; 59 N.R. 82, refd to. [para. 86].

Manitoba Fisheries Ltd. v. Canada, [1979] 1 S.C.R. 101; 23 N.R. 159, refd to. [para. 86].

Belfast Corp. v. O.D. Cars Ltd., [1960] A.C. 490 (H.L.), refd to. [para. 86].

Saskatchewan Land and Homestead Co. v. Calgary and Edmonton Railway Co. (1913), 14 D.L.R. 193 (Alta. S.C.), affd. (1914), 51 S.C.R. 1, refd to. [para. 86].

Canada (Attorney General) v. Canadian Pacific Ltd., [2000] B.C.T.C. 397; 79 B.C.L.R.(2d) 62 (S.C.), refd to. [para. 86].

British Columbia (Attorney General) v. Mount Currie Indian Band (1991), 54 B.C.L.R.(2d) 156 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 88].

Canada (Attorney General) v. Western Higbie, [1945] S.C.R. 385, refd to. [para. 88].

Shelf Holdings Ltd. v. Husky Oil Oper­ations Ltd. et al. (1989), 94 A.R. 241; 56 D.L.R.(4th) 193 (C.A.), leave to appeal denied [1989] 1 S.C.R. xiv; 103 N.R. 85; 100 A.R. 25, refd to. [para. 109].

Musqueam Indian Band et al. v. Glass et al., [2000] 2 S.C.R. 633; 261 N.R. 296, refd to. [para. 143].

Rugby Joint Water Board v. Shaw-Fox, [1973] A.C. 202 (H.L.), refd to. [para. 149].

Quebec (Attorney General) v. Canada (Attorney General), [1921] 1 A.C. 401 (H.L.), refd to. [para. 162].

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. 166].

R. v. Adams (G.W.), [1996] 3 S.C.R. 101; 202 N.R. 89, refd to. [para. 166].

Statutes Noticed:

Constitution Act, 1982, sect. 35(1) [para. 97].

Indian Act, R.S.C. 1952, c. 149, sect. 2(1)(o), sect. 18(1), sect. 35 [para. 16].

Indian Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. I-5, sect. 81(1) [para. 74]; sect. 83(1)(a), sect. 83(2), sect. 83(3) [para. 16].

Water Act, R.S.B.C. 1948, c. 361, sect. 21 [para. 16].

Authors and Works Noticed:

Canada, Minutes of Proceedings and Evi­dence, No. 3, of the Special Committee Appointed to consider Bill No. 79, An Act Respecting Indians, April 18, 1951, generally [para. 151].

La Forest, G.V., Natural Resources and Public Property under the Canadian Constitution (1969), pp. 18, 19 [para. 181].

Lordon, Paul, Crown Law (1991), p. 283 [para. 100].

Todd, E.C.E., The Law of Expropriation and Compensation in Canada (2nd Ed. 1992), pp. 27, 29 [para. 149].

Counsel:

Louise Mandell, Q.C., Leslie Pinder and Clarine Ostrove, for the appellant;

Barry Williamson and Gregg Cockrill, for the respondent, Town of Oliver;

Timothy P. Leadem, Q.C., Paul Yearwood and Hunter Gordon, for the respondent, Her Majesty The Queen in Right of British Columbia;

Gerald Donegan, Q.C., Kathy Ring and Mary King, for the intervenor, Attorney General of Canada;

John R. Rich and F. Matthew Kirchner, for the intervenor, Squamish Indian Band.

Solicitors of Record:

Mandell Pinder, Vancouver, B.C., for the appellant;

Lidstone, Young, Anderson, Vancouver, B.C., for the respondent, Town of Oliver;

Ministry of Attorney General, Victoria, B.C., for the respondent, Her Majesty The Queen in Right of the Province of British Columbia;

Department of Justice, Vancouver, B.C., for the intervenor, Attorney General of Canada;

Ratcliff & Co., North Vancouver, B.C., for the intervenor, Squamish Indian Band.

This appeal was heard on June 12, 2001, before McLachlin, C.J.C., L'Heureux-Dubé, Gonthier, Iacobucci, Major, Bastarache, Binnie, Arbour and LeBel, JJ., of the Supreme Court of Canada.

On December 7, 2001, the judgment of the Supreme Court of Canada was delivered in both official languages and the following opinions were filed:

Iacobucci, J. (McLachlin, C.J.C., Binnie, Arbour and LeBel, JJ., concurring) - see paragraphs 1 to 91;

Gonthier, J. (L'Heureux-Dubé, Major and Bastarache, JJ., concurring), dis­senting - see paragraphs 92 to 191.

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