Court Stops Enforcement of First Nations Financial Transparency Act

By Bruce McIvor

There's a lot of interest in Friday's court decision on the enforcement of the First Nations Financial Transparency Act. Here's a brief summary.

Sawridge First Nation and Onion Lake Cree Nation sought to either completely stop the federal government from enforcing the Act or stop enforcement until two legal challenges to the legislation are heard.

The Court decided that because of the seriousness of the issues (the legal challenges are based on Aboriginal and treaty rights) and the need for a full evidentiary record, the federal government should not be allowed to enforce the Act while the two legal challenges are pending. Consequently, the Court granted a stay of the federal government’s enforcement efforts.

Onion Lake also sought an injunction against the federal government related to its withholding of funding for so-called non-essential services. The Court decided not to grant the injunction due to a lack of evidence about the effect of the government’s actions on the First Nations. The Court left open the possibility of an injunction in the future should the First Nations provide more evidence that withholding funding is causing them serious harm.

Canada v. Cold Lake First Nations, 2015 FC 1197

Bruce McIvor, lawyer and historian, is principal of First Peoples Law Corporation. He is also an Adjunct Professor at the University of British Columbia’s Allard School of Law where he teaches the constitutional law of Aboriginal and Treaty rights. Bruce is a proud Métis from the Red River in Manitoba. He holds a Ph.D. in Aboriginal and environmental history and is a Fulbright Scholar. A member of the bar in British Columbia and Ontario, Bruce is recognized nationally and internationally as a leading practitioner of Aboriginal law in Canada.

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