The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs says the province should have used a new bill to fix a law that it says restricts Indigenous people from addressing historical injustices.
If passed, Bill 51 will continue to demand any claims based on Aboriginal and treaty rights affirmed by the constitution must be commenced in court within 30 years of the act or omission taking place.
AMC Grand Chief Arlen Dumas said no First Nations groups were consulted before the province tabled the new bill — which maintains the same limitation period as the previous legislation — on Monday.
He called for the removal of limitations when Indigenous people are trying to correct historical wrongs.
“It’s totally disingenuous to conversations that we’re trying to have in regards to reconciliation, wanting to try and correct past and historical injustices,” he said.
Falling short on reconciliation: AMC
Dumas said the lack of consultation is an affront to the government’s commitment to reconciliation with First Nations peoples.
The AMC said other provinces, such as Saskatchewan and Ontario, do not have limitation periods for Indigenous land claims.
Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont called on the government to withdraw the bill and remove limitations entirely from these land claims.
The government’s bill also sets a single limitation period for other civil claims of two years, which begins to run from the day the claim is discovered. Justice Minister Cameron Friesen said he wanted virtually all legal actions to have the same two-year limitation period.
“We have been slow in Manitoba to make changes to this where almost every other jurisdiction has sought to harmonize its rules better,” Friesen told reporters.
NDP justice critic Nahanni Fontaine questioned the value of making some limitation periods stricter.
“What if I only found out two-and-a-half years after, and I’m no longer allowed to [pursue legal action]?” she said. “I think it’s quite problematic.”
Fontaine argued the bill would make it harder for Manitobans to seek justice from corporations and governments.
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