Role of Provinces

What Role Should the Provinces Play in the New Treaty?

In June of 1901, Secretary McLean of the Department of Indian Affairs asked the Department’s Law Clerk, Reginald Rimmer, for his legal advice about whether the Provinces of Ontario and Quebec should be parties to the new Treaty, given the decision of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in the St. Catharines Milling Case of 1888.

See a brief overview of the case below.

Rimmer maintained that the Provinces should be parties to the new Treaty.

Another lawyer named J.A.J. McKenna disagreed with Rimmer, and argued that the Provinces should not be parties to the Treaty, since “the Confederation Act puts Indians and Indian Affairs under the Central power and that the practice is that all Governmental dealings with the Indians are confined to that power.” McKenna believed that if the government deviated from this, it would cause confusion.

Author: Janet Armstrong, PhD