No duty to consult Indigenous groups on federal law-making, Supreme Court says

OTTAWA -- The Supreme Court of Canada says federal ministers do not have a duty to consult Indigenous groups when drafting legislation.

In a decision today involving an Alberta First Nation, a majority of the high court said the law-making process does not amount to Crown conduct that triggers the deeply entrenched duty to confer with Indigenous Peoples.

The Mikisew Cree argued that the former Conservative government should have consulted them on legislative proposals that would affect their treaty rights.

In 2012, the government introduced two omnibus bills proposing changes to Canada's environmental protection and regulatory processes.

A Federal Court judge said there was a duty to consult the Mikisew because the proposals would arguably affect fishing, trapping and navigation.

The Federal Court of Appeal overturned the ruling, saying that including the duty to consult in the legislative process offends the doctrine of the separation of powers and the principle of parliamentary privilege.