Province not respecting Metis searching rights, says lawyer

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REGINA, SASK : September 17, 2020  -- Clément Chartier, at podium, lawyer for Donald Belhumeur, speaks to media regarding Metis hunting rights at the Saskatchewan Legislative Building in Regina, Saskatchewan on Sept. 17, 2020. BRANDON HARDER/ Regina Leader-Post

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Chartier argued the ruling should have secured hunting rights for all Metis people in Saskatchewan.

“We’re calling upon the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General of this province to start living up to the rule of law. I mean, it’s a flagrant violation of the rule of law to not respect a provincial court decision,” said Chartier.

He has written a letter to Justice Minister Don Morgan outlining his concerns.

Chartier has provided legal services to a number of Metis people who have been charged with hunting or fishing violations. He said just this past weekend, a Regina Metis man was charged with hunting without a licence.

Donald Belhumeur didn’t attend the news conference, but his brother Charles voiced his frustration with the situation.

“What’s the point of going to court? What’s the point of having the laws and the rules like that if a government department can just ignore them?” asked Charles.

As for why the province does not recognize Metis hunting rights in the south, Charles speculated the government has a “profiteering attitude” towards Saskatchewan’s wildlife resources. He believes the government wants to ensure it can sell angling and fishing licenses to Americans, and worries Metis residents will cull the local wildlife.

“I think that’s part of the motivation behind it. It’s not necessarily racist, but it’s monetary,” said Charles.

Charles Belhumeur, at podium, speaks to media regarding Metis hunting rights at the Saskatchewan Legislative Building in Regina, Saskatchewan on Sept. 17, 2020. Photo by BRANDON HARDER /Regina Leader-Post

Chartier said there may also be a practical reason, since it may be easier for the government to enforce the hunting rules in the north, where Metis people make up a larger portion of the population.