The Specific Claims Tribunal’s 2014 Annual Report was made public Nov. 14 and warned that understaffing and underfunding will impair the tribunal to function. The Specific Claims Tribunal was established to make final and binding decisions on specific land.
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, is not impressed with the ruling Conservative government. “Harper has once again demonstrated his lack of commitment to resolving land claims and his patent disregard for the rule of law,” Phillip said. “Harper’s egregiously unfair negotiation practices, chronic underfunding and willful misleading of the public is gravely undermining the honour of the Crown. The tribunal’s report makes it clear Harper is walking away from his government’s lawful obligations by sabotaging the very body it set up to bring about resolution and certainty for all Canadians. The report signals the death of this process and warns of a return to the courts and, where necessary, to the land and to the streets to exercise and defend our rights – as we did at OKA and Ipperwash.”
Tribunal Chair Justice Harry Slade wrote in the report, “The Tribunal has neither a sufficient number of members to address its present and future case load in a timely manner, if at all. Nor is it… assured of its ability to continue to function with adequate protection of its independence… Without the appointment of at least one additional full-time member and several part time members…The Tribunal will fail…
“These concerns have been raised with the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development. There has been no adequate response from Government.”