The duty of federal and provincial government departments to consult with Aboriginal communities who might be affected by pending government activities or decisions is firmly entrenched in the Canadian Constitution. The duty to consult is triggered when government departments are considering whether to renew expiring permits, licences and contracts for existing developments. In Carrier Sekani, the Supreme Court of Canada held that the duty exists only where the pending government decision will create “novel” adverse impacts. Governments have been quick to interpret this to mean no consultation is required where the renewal of the permit, licence or contract would maintiain the operational status quo of the development. However, a careful reading of Carrier Sekani reveals that this approach would be wrong. In this recent article for the Canadian Bar Association I explain why – B. Hebert Carrier Sekani_August 2011.

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