Aboriginal Law: Limitation PeriodsChief John Ermineskin, et al. v. Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, et al., 2017 CanLII 38580 (SCC)
In 1946, the Applicant First Nation surrendered their mineral interests in their reserve to the Crown, which permitted the Crown to grant leases to oil and gas companies, who then paid royalties to the Crown in trust for the First Nation. In 1973, Canada developed a national strategy to deal with the effects of rapidly rising international oil prices, including the implementation of an export tax (and later, an export charge) on oil export sales. The tax or charge was levied on any exported oil produced on the reserve between 1973 and 1985. In 1992, the First Nation brought an action in Federal Court asserting a number of claims against Canada arising out of these facts, alleging the regulated price regime constituted, among other things, a breach of the Crown’s trust and fiduciary duties, as well as infringements of treaty rights and obligations. The federal Crown brought a motion for summary judgment, seeking the dismissal of the claim as being time-barred by a six-year statutory limitation period. The Federal Court granted the Crown’s motion for summary judgment against the First Nation, on the basis their claim raised no triable issue in light of the application of statutory limitation periods. A majority of the Federal C.A. dismissed the First Nation’s appeal, finding no error in the Federal Court’s reasoning and decision. In the C.A.’s view, the motions judge properly applied the existing jurisprudence which confirms limitation periods are applicable to all Aboriginal claims, including those based on infringements of treaty rights. "The motion for reconsideration of the application for leave to appeal dismissed on March 9, 2017...is dismissed with costs in favour of the respondent, Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada."