Thursday, December 21, 2006

Tsartlip Rights Victory: Common Sense At A Price

An entire decade of legal proceedings and hundreds of thousands of dollars in lawyers' fees. That's what it took to get Canada's courts to resolve a hunting rights controversy that should never have gone to court in the first place. And it was a close call - a 4-3 split at the Supreme Court of Canada.

The majority disagreed with the minority that all night hunting is dangerous, and it should be up to the Crown to show it is a dangerous activity, rather than imposing a blanket ban.

“It applies without exception to the whole province, including the most northern regions where hours of daylight are limited in the winter months and populated areas are few and far between,” said the majority ruling, written by justices Marie Deschamps and Rosalie Abella.

But now that the national court has upheld the rights of my neighbours, the Tsartlip people, to persist in a contemporary fashion in their tradition of night-hunting with torches - the most efficient and eminently sensible way to hunt deer, if what you're after is food, rather than a jolly and sporting time of killing an animal - it's opened up a gigantic bag of snakes for hunting regulations across the country. Expect more court challenges and aboriginal hunting-rights controversies.

Provincial and Aboriginal governments can still regulate aboriginal hunting for the purposes of conservation, and can regulate night-hunting for the purposes of public safety. But that's the approach that should have been taken in the first place, rather than imposing a blanket ban.

Still, good for the Tsartlip.


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