The final stages of a complex trial over treaty pension payments in northern Ontario began Monday, with one group of plaintiffs advancing negotiations and another panning the state government in court.
The lawsuit concerns the provisions of the Robinson-Huron and Robinson-Superior Treaties of 1850, signed between the Anisinaabe tribe of the upper Great Lakes and the royal family, which paid annual dividends as the territories produced more wealth. Or promises to increase the pension.
Pensions were capped at $4 per person in 1874 and have not increased since. In the pre-trial stage, Anisinaabe successfully argued that this violated the treaty, and the Ontario government appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Scheduled for the fall, the trial continues in Ontario’s Superior Court in Sudbury.
Harley Schacter, an attorney for the Robinson Advanced Treaty signatories, said Ontario experts “counterfactual non-existence” by suggesting that the modern value of resources taken from the land is minus $11 billion. He claimed in court on Monday that he dreams of “a world of
This means that for 173 years, the Anisinaabe have no obligation to compensate for the resources taken from their territory.
“Ontario’s vision remains a poor vision of the ongoing future treaty relationship, which does not bode well.
“There is no guarantee that any cure is imminent.”
According to Schachter, another accounting model would cost as much as $193 billion, and plaintiffs would call Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz to calculate the value of the resources taken from the territory.
Due to its complexity, the court divided the case into three stages. The first step concerns whether the Crown is obligated to increase the pension. The second step concerned whether defendants Canada and Ontario could claim sovereign immunity.
Plaintiffs have won so far, but the future of this lawsuit is uncertain. Stage 3 is about liability.
Schacter filed the complaint on behalf of the Red Rock Indian Band and White Sands First Nation in 1999. Twenty-one other Anisinabe First Nations formed the Robinson-Huron Treaty Litigation Fund and filed a lawsuit in 2012.
Two separate groups participated in the same trial.
However, Robinson Huron Group is currently in settlement talks brokered by retired Senator and former Truth and Reconciliation Commission Chairman Murray Sinclair.
Sinclair recently resigned due to health reasons, but the group said in a statement on Monday that it would “continue to work together at the negotiating table to reach an outcome outside the courtroom.”
Meanwhile, in court, Schacter urged Justice Patricia Hennessy to confirm that the royal family takes its allegedly newfound treaty obligations with skepticism.
“For the past 173 years, there has been no reassurance that negotiations with the royal family would result in a fair outcome for Anisina Abe,” he said, adding that now trusting the royal government to support a treaty would mean that the foxes were in the chicken coop. He argued that it was like trusting to continue to protect the
“After 173 years of government negligence and carelessness, it is fair and just that the chickens are returning to their roost.”
Ontario and Canada are expected to respond with opening statements on Tuesday.