Logging ruling could affect native rights

A Supreme Court of Canada decision that rejects native logging rights in two eastern provinces could affect the way aboriginal land and treaty issues are handled in Alberta, reported the Edmonton Journal July 21. The top court has ruled that treaties signed 250 years ago by aboriginals in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia do not give them the right to cut down trees on Crown land for commercial gain. The court said commercial logging operations are not a “logical evolution” of the traditional Mi’kmaq trading activities that are protected by the treaty.

“There are some general principles in this case that may affect Alberta,” Osgoode Hall Law School Professor Kent McNeil said. A leading authority on aboriginal title in Canada, McNeil is the former director of the Native Law Centre at the University of Saskatchewan. “This case could be very important for the Lubicon, who have an aboriginal title claim,” he said, referring to the Lubicon Lake Cree of northern Alberta, who have never signed a treaty. A successful claim to aboriginal title would give natives exclusive use of the land, including natural resources on and under the ground. “In other cases, the Alberta government’s position is that aboriginal title was extinguished with the treaties, but aboriginals argue the treaties do not involve an absolute surrender of the land,” McNeil said. “The interpretation of treaties in Alberta remains a major issue.”

Subway to Scarborough Town Centre?

The TTC is figuring out this summer what to do with the aging, elevated, six-stop line that links the Scarborough Town Centre to the Bloor-Danforth subway at Kennedy Station, reported the Toronto Star July 21. “We have a problem,” says TTC commissioner and Scarborough councillor Brian Ashton. “It’s well over capacity. It’s a very popular line and the technology needs to be upgraded. The capacity of the line has to be expanded.” Options include expanding the Bloor-Danforth subway. But subway lines are expensive. It would cost about $1 billion to build a subway to replace the RT – and Scarborough would probably have to get in line behind York University, the next subway project on the list.