Last week, The Supreme Court issued three more landmark decisions. The first two decisions struck down more of Stephen Harper's tough on crime agenda. Tom Walkom writes:
On Friday, the court unanimously swept aside provisions of the former Conservative government’s Truth in Sentencing Act that limited a judge’s ability to give credit for time served in pretrial detention.
In a second decision that same day, the majority struck down another Conservative law that required a minimum sentence of at least one year for previously convicted drug traffickers.
In both cases, the top court said, restrictions on judicial discretion were so broad as to be unconstitutional.
Mr. Harper ordered his Ministry of Justice to stop asking whether his legislation could pass constitutional muster. The result has been an array of decisions that should have reminded Harper -- and all Canadians -- that a prime minister is not above the law. Since Mr. Harper has all but disappeared, it's hard to know if the lesson has sunk in.
The far more important court decision came Thursday. That’s when the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Métis and non-status Indians are Ottawa’s responsibility and must be treated as “Indians” under the constitution.
Among other things, that makes members of the two groups eligible for certain kinds of health care and tax exemptions available now only to the Inuit and residents of First Nations communities.But the court also confirmed, in an almost casual manner, that Ottawa has a constitutional duty to consult meaningfully with representatives of the Métis and non-status Indians before doing anything that might impinge on their rights.The justices said they didn’t have to formally restate that obligation in their decision because it was already settled law.
But it will act at the very least as a reminder to Ottawa, which has not always been anxious to include Métis and non-status Indians in its talks.
Canada's Metis peoples have lived in limbo since 1867. The Court reminded us that all God's children have a place in the choir -- and that it is a source of wisdom.