Government Dispute

Who Should Pay for the Costs of the Treaty: Canada or Ontario?

Just prior to the making of Treaty No. 9, the Governments of Ontario and Canada were battling each other in court over which level of government would have to pay the annuities and provide reserve lands promised under Treaty No. 3 (1873). Neither the Dominion nor Ontario felt that they should be responsible for the payment of annuities promised under any new Treaty.

Ontario maintained that the Dominion Government should pay, since Indians and lands for Indians were a federal responsibility under the Constitution.

The Dominion believed that since the province of Ontario would benefit from the land and natural resources once a Treaty “cleared” the aboriginal title, it should be responsible for the cost.

This dispute about which level of government was responsible for payment of annuities had not yet been decided by the Court, when officials at Indian Affairs first approached the Ontario government about making a new Treaty. Even though the highest court in the land, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, had not yet ruled on the dispute surrounding the terms of Treaty No. 3, the Department of Indian Affairs proposed draft Treaty No. 9 terms and sent them to the Government of Ontario, hoping that the Province would give its approval.

Author: Janet Armstrong, PhD