N.S. review of ‘conquered people’ brief complete, but minister won’t comment

HALIFAX- Nova Scotia’s justice minister says her department has completed its review of how a controversial legal brief implying the Mi’kmaq are a conquered people made it to court.

But Diana Whalen is saying little about the review, because it contains legal and personnel information.

Whalen initiated the review after Mi’kmaq groups raised objections to the use of Crown lawyer Alex Cameron to represent the government in the Alton Gas appeal. He had penned a 2009 book that attacked the Supreme Court of Canada’s landmark Marshall decision on fishing rights.

The Indian Brook First Nation argues Alton Natural Gas Storage’s plan to flush out salt to create storage caverns near Stewiacke poses an environmental risk to the nearby Shubenacadie River.

The government’s legal brief in the case argued the province’s duty to consult on such issues extended only to “unconquered people.”

The Justice Department subsequently removed Cameron from the case and Premier Stephen McNeil apologized to Mi’kmaq chiefs and distanced the government from the legal position, saying it doesn’t reflect the government’s view that it has a duty to consult on issues of importance to First Nations.

Whalen says the review does have some ideas that could change the way some things are done in her department, but she wouldn’t elaborate.

When she announced the review last fall, Whalen said it would look at how justice files are generated and how they are reviewed within the department.



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