Dalhousie Law Journal


aboriginals, treaties, natural resources, rights, courts, negotiations, Supreme Court of Canada, Marshall case


Judicial decisions which recognize aboriginal or treaty rights to natural resources inevitably lead on to a process of negotiation, as governments and aboriginal and other users of the resource define the access and management regimes which allow for practical implementation of the legal rights. Courts should be cognizant of the impact of their decisions on such negotiations, and provide adequate clarity and substantive guidance to negotiators. This article considers the decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada in the Marshall case from this perspective, and details the shortcomings which made the prospects for successful negotiations less favourable. The weaknesses in the Court's judgments in this case provide the basis for some suggested changes in approach.