Beckman v. Little Salmon / Carmacks First Nation

Beckman v. Little Salmon / Carmacks First Nation

Year: 2010

Court: Supreme Court of Canada

Citation: 2010 SCC 53

Location: YT

TAGS: Duty to Consult; Mineral/Mining/Natural Resources; Honour of the Crown

The honour of the Crown exists whether or not there is a modern treaty or contract. The duty to consult is part of the honour of the Crown. 

Summary:

Beckman v Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation involves judicial review of a decision of the Yukon government to approve a grant of 65 hectares of surrendered Crown land to a Yukon resident. The land is part of the First Nation’s traditional territory, on which members have a treaty right to hunt and fish. The question in this case was whether the Yukon government had a duty to consult Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation given that their ratified Final Agreement – a modern treaty – did not set out such a requirement. The Yukon government argued that the treaty was a “complete code” and included all consultation obligations. The Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) determined that the treaty was not a complete code, and that the duty to consult existed independently. The SCC found that the duty to consult was met. 

Why this Case Matters:

This case affirmed that the honour of the Crown is a constitutional principle, one which exists independently of a treaty or contract. The duty to consult is part of the honour of the Crown and exists independently of a treaty. The SCC advised courts to respect the ultimate agreement reached by parties to a treaty, but not to displace the application of the honour of the Crown. In other words, the SCC warned that the Crown cannot entirely “contract out” from its duties arising from the honour of the Crown. 

In contrast to Haida Nation v BC, the SCC held that the adequacy of consultation should be assessed on a standard of correctness. However, he specified that there is no substantive right of accommodation and that action taken based on consultation must be within a “reasonable range.”

Supreme Court Judgment:

CanLII – Beckman v. Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation, 2010 SCC 53 (CanLII), [2010] 3 SCR 103

Go Deeper: 

McCarthy Tétrault – Modern Treaties and the Crown’s Duty to Consult Aboriginal Peoples — Beckman v. Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation

McMillan Law, Jason J. Annibale and Amanda Klein – A little certainty for an uncertain process – Supreme Court confirms duty to consult not triggered or informed by adverse impacts from past actions

Donovan & Company Newsletter – Beckman V. Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation: Defining The Crown’S Duty To Consult In Modern Treaties

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