DUNCAN SEEKS ANSWERS ON DELIVERY OF FEDERAL DUTIES TO PROTECT FIRST NATION RIGHTS IN PROTECTING CARIBOU

EDMONTON- Linda Duncan, New Democrat Critic for Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, is seeking answers from the federal Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development on his role in the decision to ignore Aboriginal and Treaty Rights in decisions on emergency action to protect boreal caribou habitat and resulting abrogation of the duty of the Crown.

On July 28, 2011 Justice Crampton of the Federal Court ruled that the federal Minister of Environment erred in failing to consider to the applicant First Nations’ Treaty Rights and the Crown’s obligation to act honourably in interpreting the Minister’s mandate to issue an Emergency Order under subsection 80 (2) of the Species at Risk Act. The judge set aside the Decision and deferred until after September 1 his final ruling on the failure of the Minister to comply with the legal duty to prepare a Recovery Strategy by the legally required date.

According to Linda Duncan “It is important that the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs clarifies the role he and his officials played and will play in any decisions about resource development and species protection that may impact the rights and interest of First Nations. What I find hard to comprehend is why the government has not expedited action to protect these threatened Alberta caribou herds when their own just released draft Recovery Strategy reports that ‘Aboriginal people consistently indicated that conservation of boreal caribou is essential, as this species is integral to the culture, identity and survival of their communities.’ In the interests of the First Nations and the caribou we will be closely watching the government’s response.”