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CBA Welcomes Reforms to Land Claims Process Contained in Bill C-30

by NationTalk on April 9, 2008500 Views

For Immediate Release
April 9, 2008

OTTAWA – The Canadian Bar Association supports Bill C-30 (Specific Claims Tribunal Act) as it creates a much-needed independent tribunal with the power to decide long-standing claims between First Nations and the Crown.“Legislative reform of the specific claims process is long overdue,” says Christopher Devlin of Victoria, past chair of the CBA’s National Aboriginal Law Section. “We anticipate that the bill will address serious problems of delay and backlog under the current regime.”

The CBA supports the specific claims process as a necessary alternative to litigation for resolving claims. But the CBA notes that the process has been clearly unable to cope with the sheer volume of claims from First Nations.

Bill C-30 is a welcome reform to the specific claims process, and it is important that the bill was drafted in consultation with the Assembly of First Nations. “The proposed legislation would create the Specific Claims Tribunal which, unlike the Indian Claims Commission, would have the power to make binding decisions about outstanding historic claims of First Nations,” says the CBA brief.

While welcoming the general intent of the bill, the CBA suggests a number of improvements. As drafted, the bill would unduly restrict the tribunal’s jurisdiction, impose an unfair cap on compensation the tribunal may award, offer too broad a release cause, and allow the possibility of new litigation.

Christopher Devlin will present the CBA submission to the Commons Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development on Wednesday, April 9, at 3:30 p.m. in Room 253-D, Centre Block. The submission is available at:

http://www.cba.org/CBA/submissions/pdf/08-22-eng.pdf.

The Canadian Bar Association is dedicated to improvement in the law and the administration of justice. Some 37,000 lawyers, law teachers, and law students from across Canada are members.

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CONTACT: Hannah Bernstein, Canadian Bar Association, Tel: (613) 237-2925, ext. 146; E-mail: hannahb@cba.org.

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