Summary

40619

Attorney General of Québec v. Pekuakamiulnuatsh Takuhikan

(Quebec) (Civil) (By Leave)

Keywords

Aboriginal law — Self-government — Contracts — Honour of the Crown — Tripartite agreement between federal government, Government of Quebec and band council of Pekuakamiulnuatsh Innu First Nation concerning funding for Indigenous police force — Whether constitutional principle of honour of Crown applies in relation to agreements entered into under s. 90 of Police Act, CQLR, c. P-13.1 — In alternative, whether Quebec breached its duty to act honourably — In alternative, how principle of honour of Crown fits into general law rules of civil liability in Quebec, and whether, in this case, it can ground finding of abuse of rights as made by Court of Appeal — Police Act, CQLR, c. P-13.1, ss. 48, 90, 91 and 93 — Civil Code of Québec, arts. 6, 7, 1372, 1375, 1376, 1377, 1378, 1433, 1434 and 1458.

Summary

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The respondent, Pekuakamiulnuatsh Takuhikan, is a band council within the meaning of the Indian Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. I-5. It represents the Pekuakamiulnuatsh Innu First Nation, whose community is located in Mashteuiatsh on the western shore of Lac Saint-Jean near Roberval. Under tripartite agreements signed over the years with the Government of Canada and the Government of Quebec since 1996, the respondent is responsible for policing in the community of Mashteuiatsh. The tripartite agreements resulted from the adoption by the Government of Canada in 1991 of the First Nations Policing Policy and the First Nations Policing Program, which allowed it and the provinces, territories and First Nations to negotiate tripartite funding agreements in order to establish professional police services responsive to the needs and culture of each Indigenous community. The respondent brought an action against the Government of Canada, represented by the intervener, the Attorney General of Canada, and the Government of Quebec, represented by the appellant, the Attorney General of Quebec, claiming [translation] “reimbursement of the accumulated deficits of Public Security in the community of Mashteuiatsh for the services provided under the agreements on policing in the community of Mashteuiatsh in force for the period of April 1, 2013, to the present date”. It seems that the governments continued renewing the tripartite agreements without increasing the money allotted, despite the fact that the respondent had to pay significant amounts retroactively to the members of its police force as a result of an arbitration award, related to the renewal of the collective agreement, that ordered catch-up wage increases for the period of 2009 to 2014. In support of its application, the respondent alleged that the Government of Quebec and the Government of Canada had breached their obligations to negotiate in good faith, to act with honour and to fulfill their fiduciary duties toward it with respect to the funding of its police force.

Lower Court Rulings

December 19, 2019
Superior Court of Quebec

2019 QCCS 5699 (French only)
Amended originating application dismissed
December 15, 2022
Court of Appeal of Quebec (Québec)

2022 QCCA 1699 (French only)
Appeal allowed