Canada’s courts favour corporations over indigenous peoples
A new report released by the Yellowhead Institute reveals an alarming truth about Canada’s legal system. The report investigates the legal struggles over natural resource development, specifically the disparities between First Nations and corporations in obtaining injunctions.
Injunctions are legal orders that restrain entities from commencing or carrying out a certain act. The act in question usually involves infringing on the legal rights of another. In the case of First Nations, injunctions can be obtained to halt the construction of developments such as pipelines. For corporations, an injunction can be a tool to dispose of protests or resistance to their development.
The Yellowhead Institute report finds that corporations’ attempts to obtain injunctions against their Indigenous opposition, were successful 76 percent of the time. On the other hand, First Nations’ attempts to obtain injunctions against corporations were rejected 81 percent of the time.
The gap between success rates points to a prevalent bias in Canada’s judicial system. The odds overwhelmingly favour corporations and resource development projects. Whereas First Nations must jump through hoops to attain injunctions, corporations are able to use them as a powerful tool to shut down opposition to their projects.
As the report asserts, the use of legal mechanisms to deny “Indigenous people’s inherent rights” is nothing new. Merely a modern manifestation of a centuries-long history of dispossession.