Courtrooms become latest battleground in Idle No More

Tease the day: Court challenges join flash mobs and blockades as tools of protest

CP/Fred Chartrand

The breadth of Aboriginal protest in Canada this week is difficult to overstate. Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence’s protest on Victoria Island is well known, as are the various blockades, flash mobs and demonstrations across the country that comprise Idle No More. But the newest battleground between First Nations and the feds is the courtroom. Later today, Federal Court will rule on whether or not the federal government has an obligation to negotiate treaty rights and assorted benefits with Métis and non-status Indians (UPDATE: The FCC found in favour of the Métis [PDF]). The Globe and Mail suggests the decision, no matter which side it favours, will be appealed—setting the stage for a Supreme Court showdown in a number of years. At the same time, two Alberta First Nations are challenging in court the federal omnibus budget bill that set off Idle No More protests last year. Yet more fronts in a widening conflict that continues to build just days before Prime Minister Stephen Harper meets with Aboriginal leaders, including Spence, to talk about treaty rights and economic development.

What’s above the fold this morning?

The Globe and Mail leads with rising tensions in the days before Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s meeting with Aboriginal leaders (not online). The National Post fronts a judge’s decision to slam police for not breaking up rail blockades linked to Idle No More protests. The Toronto Star goes above the fold with Mayor Rob Ford’s fight for his political life in a Toronto courtroom. The Ottawa Citizen leads with chronic accounting issues on the Attawapiskat First Nation, stretching back several years. iPolitics fronts the federal privacy commissioner’s attempt to find a compromise with the government on controversial internet surveillance legislation. leads with Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence’s dismissal of the latest unfavourable audit of her community as a distraction. National Newswatch showcases Chantal Hebert’s column in the Toronto Star that suggests the next few months could make or break the Liberal brand in Canada.

Stories that will be (mostly) missed

1. XL warnings. Canadian Food Inspection Agency officials ordered the XL Foods plant at the heart of last year’s E.Coli outbreak to clean up its act at least six times in 2012. 2. Métis rights. Federal Court will rule today on the federal government’s obligation to negotiate treaty rights with Métis and non-status Indians—a decision that’s likely to be appealed.
3. Military costs. The Canadian Forces will now charge provinces and municipalities for disaster relief whenever it’s required, a move blamed on departmental budget cuts. 4. Death row. Ronald Smith, a Canadian convicted murderer who’s on death row in Montana won’t receive clemency from the outgoing Democratic governor, Brian Schweitzer.

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