R. v. Marshall (D.J.) (1999), 246 N.R. 83 (SCC)

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Temp. Cite: [1999] N.R. TBEd. SE.018

Donald John Marshall, Jr. (appellant) v. Her Majesty The Queen (respondent) and The Attorney General for New Brunswick, The West Nova Fishermen’s Coalition, The Native Council of Nova Scotia and The Union of New Brunswick Indians (intervenors)


Indexed As: R. v. Marshall (D.J.), Jr.

Supreme Court of Canada

Lamer, C.J.C., L’Heureux-Dubé, Gonthier, Cory, McLachlin, Iacobucci and Binnie, JJ.

September 17, 1999.


The accused treaty Indian was convicted of three offences under the Fisheries Act re­lating to the catching and sale of eels (i.e., no licence to fish or sell and fishing during closed season). The trial judge rejected the accused’s defence that the Treaties of 1760-61 gave the accused a constitutionally pro­tected right to trade in fish without govern­ment regulation (i.e., preferential right to trade). The accused appealed directly to the Court of Appeal on a point of law (Criminal Code, s. 830).

The Nova Scotia Court of Appeal, in a judgment reported 159 N.S.R.(2d) 156; 468 A.P.R. 156, dismissed the appeal. The trial judge did not err in concluding that the Treaties of 1760-61 did not grant a right to trade or sell fish free from any government regulation. The accused appealed.

The Supreme Court of Canada, McLachlin and Gonthier, JJ., dissenting, allowed the appeal and substituted acquittals. The court held that “the prohibitions on catching and retaining fish without a licence, on fishing during the close time, and on the unlicensed sale of fish, contained in ss. 4(1)(a) and 20 of the Maritime Provinces Fishery Regu­lations and s. 35(2) of the Fishery (General) Regulations, [were] inconsistent with the treaty rights of the [accused] contained in the Mi’kmaq Treaties of 1760-61 and there­fore [were] of no force or effect or applica­tion to him, by virtue of ss. 35(1) and 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982”.

Fish and Game – Topic 805

Indian, Inuit and Métis rights – General principles – Scope of rights – Limitations – Conservation – [See
Fish and Game – Topic 967

Fish and Game – Topic 967

Indians, Inuit and Métis rights – Right to fish and regulation of Indian fishery – Treaty Indians – In defence to offences under the Fisheries Act, the accused treaty Indian claimed a constitutionally protected right to trade in fish without government regulation under the Treaties of 1760-61 – The Nova Scotia Court of Appeal held that the Treaties did not grant any right to trade over and above the rights enjoyed by all citizens – The Treaties’ “truckhouse” clause, which was the only reference to trade in the Treaties and provided that Indians would “not traffick, barter or exchange any commodities in any manner but with such persons or the managers of such truckhouses”, was a restriction on trade and did not impliedly grant an un­restricted right to trade in fish – The Supreme Court of Canada held that the Treaties, interpreted in their historical, economic, political and cultural context to determine the common intention of the signatories, affirmed the Mi’kmaq right to continue to provide for their own sus­tenance by taking the products of their hunting, fishing and other gathering activi­ties, and trading for what in 1760 was termed “necessaries” – The modern equiv­a­lent of “necessaries” (moderate livelihood) included such basics as “food, clothing and housing, supplemented by a few ameni­ties”, but not the accumulation of wealth – This treaty right was subject to regulation justifiable under the test in R. v. Badger – Catch limits that could reasonably be expected to produce a moderate livelihood at present-day standards could be estab­lished by regulation and enforced without violating treaty rights – See paragraphs 1 to 67.

Indians, Inuit and Métis – Topic 3

General – Duty owed to Indians by Crown – The Supreme Court of Canada discussed the Crown’s duty to act with honour and integrity in dealing with aboriginal people – The court restated that “the honour of the Crown is always at stake in its deal­ings with Indian people. Interpretation of treaties and statutory provisions which have an impact upon treaty or aboriginal rights must be approached in a manner which maintains the integrity of the Crown. It is always assumed that the Crown intends to fulfil its promises. No appearance of ‘sharp dealing’ will be sanc­tioned.” – See paragraphs 49 to 52.

Indians, Inuit and Métis – Topic 4410

Treaties and proclamations – General – Interpretation – The Supreme Court of Canada rejected the submission that ex­trin­sic evidence of historical and cultural context could not be used in interpreting a treaty absent ambiguity – Extrinsic evi­dence could be used to show that a written document (treaty) did not include all of the terms of the agreement – Where a treaty was concluded verbally, then written up by Crown representatives, it would be un­conscionable for the Crown to ignore the oral terms while relying on the written terms – The words of a treaty must not be interpreted in their strict technical sense nor subjected to rigid modern rules of construction – The court stated that “the bottom line is the court’s obligation is to choose from among the various possible interpretations of the
intention [at the time the treaty was made] the one which best reconciles” the interests of the signatories – See paragraphs 9 to 14.

Cases Noticed:

R. v. Denny et al. (1990), 94 N.S.R.(2d) 253; 247 A.P.R. 253; 55 C.C.C.(3d) 322 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 4].

R. v. Badger (W.C.) et al., [1996] 1 S.C.R. 771; 195 N.R. 1; 181 A.R. 321; 116 W.A.C. 321, refd to. [para. 7].

International Casualty Co. v. Thomson (1913), 48 S.C.R. 167, refd to. [para. 10].

R. v. Taylor and Williams (1981), 62 C.C.C.(2d) 227 (Ont. C.A.), refd to. [para. 10].

Delgamuukw et al. v. British Columbia et al., [1997] 3 S.C.R. 1010; 220 N.R. 161; 99 B.C.A.C. 161; 162 W.A.C. 161, refd to. [para. 11].

R. v. Sioui, [1990] 1 S.C.R. 1025; 109 N.R. 22; 30 Q.A.C. 280, refd to. [para. 11].

Guerin v. Canada, [1984] 2 S.C.R. 335; 55 N.R. 161, refd to. [para. 12].

R. v. Horse; R. v. Standingwater, [1988] 1 S.C.R. 187; 82 N.R. 206; 65 Sask.R. 176, refd to. [para. 13].

R. v. Simon, [1985] 2 S.C.R. 387; 62 N.R. 366; 71 N.S.R.(2d) 15; 171 A.P.R. 15, refd to. [para. 14].

R. v. Sundown (J.), [1999] 1 S.C.R. 393; 236 N.R. 251; 177 Sask.R. 1; 199 W.A.C. 1, refd to. [para. 14].

R. v. Van der Peet (D.M.), [1996] 2 S.C.R. 507; 200 N.R. 1; 80 B.C.A.C. 81; 130 W.A.C. 81, refd to. [para. 18].

R. v. Jack, [1980] 1 S.C.R. 294; 28 N.R. 162, refd to. [para. 25].

R. v. Horseman, [1990] 1 S.C.R. 901; 108 N.R. 1; 108 A.R. 1, refd to. [para. 25].

R. v. Isaac (1975), 13 N.S.R.(2d) 460; 9 A.P.R. 460 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 42].

R. v. Cope (1981), 49 N.S.R.(2d) 555; 96 A.P.R. 555; 132 D.L.R.(3d) 36 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 42].

M.J.B. Enterprises Ltd. v. Defence Con­struction (1951) Ltd. et al., [1999] 1 S.C.R. 619; 237 N.R. 334; 232 A.R. 360; 195 W.A.C. 360, refd to. [para. 43].

Ship Moorcock, Re (1889), 14 P.D. 64, refd to. [para. 43].

Canadian Pacific Hotels Ltd. v. Bank of Montreal, [1987] 1 S.C.R. 711; 77 N.R. 161; 21 O.A.C. 321, refd to. [para. 43].

Churchwardens of St. Saviour in South­wark, Re (1613), 10 Co. Rep. 66b; 77 E.R. 1025, refd to. [para. 43].

Roger Earl of Rutland’s Case, Re (1608), 8 Co. Rep. 55a; 77 E.R. 555, refd to. [para. 43].

R. v. Sikyea, [1964] S.C.R. 642, refd to. [para. 48].

R. v. George, [1966] S.C.R. 267, refd to. [para. 48].

R. v. Sparrow, [1990] 1 S.C.R. 1075; 111 N.R. 241, refd to. [para. 48].

R. v. Bombay (M.), [1993] 1 C.N.L.R. 92; 61 O.A.C. 312 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 48].

Ontario v. Canada and Quebec; In Re Indian Claims (1895), 25 S.C.R. 434, refd to. [para. 50].

Ontario Mining Co. v. Seybold (1901), 32 S.C.R. 1, refd to. [para. 50].

R. v. Gladstone (W.) et al., [1996] 2 S.C.R. 723; 200 N.R. 189; 79 B.C.A.C. 161; 129 W.A.C. 161, refd to. [para. 57].

R. v. N.T.C. Smokehouse Ltd., [1996] 2 S.C.R. 672; 200 N.R. 321; 80 B.C.A.C. 269; 130 W.A.C. 269, refd to. [para. 57].

R. v. Van Der Peet (D.M.) (1993), 29 B.C.A.C. 209; 48 W.A.C. 209; 80 B.C.L.R.(2d) 75 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 59].

R. v. Nikal (J.B.), [1996] 1 S.C.R. 1013; 196 N.R. 1; 74 B.C.A.C. 161; 121 W.A.C. 161, refd to. [para. 64].

R. v. Adams (G.W.), [1996] 3 S.C.R. 101; 202 N.R. 89, refd to. [para. 64].

R. v. Côté (J.F.) et al., [1996] 3 S.C.R. 139; 202 N.R. 161, refd to. [para. 64].

Nowegijick v. Minister of National Reve­nue et al., [1983] 1 S.C.R. 29; 46 N.R. 41, refd to. [para. 78].

Statutes Noticed:

Constitution Act, 1982, sect. 35(1) [para. 71].

Fisheries Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. F-14, sect. 7(1) [para. 63].

Authors and Works Noticed:

Bourgeois, Donald J., The Role of the Historian in the Litigation Process (1986), 67 Can. Historical Rev. 195, pp. 195 to 205 [para. 36].

Daugherty, W., Maritime Indian Treaties in Historical Perspective (1983), gen­erally [para. 95].

Dickason, Olive Patricia, Amerindians Between French and English in Nova Scotia, 1713-1763 (1986), 10 American Indian Culture and Research J. 31, p. 46 [para. 93].

Dickinson, G.M., and Gidney, R.D., His­tory and Advocacy: Some Reflections on the Historian’s Role in Litigation (1987), 68 Can. Historical Rev. 576, pp. 576 to 585 [para. 36].

Fisher, Robin, Judging History: Reflections on the Reasons for Judgment in Delgamuukw v. B.C. (1992), 95 B.C. Studies 43, pp. 43 to 54 [para. 36].

Henderson, James [Sákéj] Youngblood, Interpreting Sui Generis Treaties (1997), 36 Alta. L. Rev. 46, generally [para. 78].

MacFarlane, R.O., Indian Trade in Nova Scotia in 1764 (1934), 40 Can. Historical Rep. 57, p. 63 [para. 95].

MAWIW District Council and Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, We Should Walk in the Tract Mr. Dummer Made: A Written Joint Assessment of Historical Materials … Relative to Dummer’s Treaty of 1725 and All Other Related or Rel­evant Maritime Treaties and Treaty Ne­gotiations (1992), pp. 23, 24, 31 to 34 [para. 92].

Paul and Gaffney, As Long as the Sun and Moon Shall Endure: A Brief History of the Maritime First Nations Treaties, 1675 to 1793 (1986), pp. 101, 102 [para. 92].

Ray, Arthur J., Creating the Image of the Savage in Defence of the Crown: The Ethnohistorian in Court (1990), 6 Native Studies Rev. 25, p. 25 [para. 36].

Rotman, Leonard I., Defining Parameters: Aboriginal Rights, Treaty Rights, and the Sparrow Justificatory Test (1997), 36 Alta. L. Rev. 149, generally [para. 78].

Stagg, Jack, Anglo-Indian Relations in North America to 1763 and an Analysis of the Royal Proclamation of 7 October 1763 (1981), p. 278 [para. 95].

Treitel, G.H., The Law of Contract (9th Ed. 1995), p. 177 [para. 10].

Upton, L.F.S., Micmacs and Colonists: Indian-White Relations in the Maritimes, 1713-1867 (1979), p. 63 [para. 92].

Waddams, S.M., The Law of Contracts (3rd Ed. 1993), para. 316 [para. 10].


Bruce H. Wildsmith, Q.C., and Eric A. Zscheile, for the appellant;

Michael A. Paré, Ian MacRae and Gordon Campbell, for the respondent;

Bruce Judah, Q.C., for the intervenor, Attorney General for New Brunswick;

A. William Moreira, Q.C., and Daniel R. Pust, for the intervenor, West Nova Fishermen’s Coalition;

D. Bruce Clarke, for the intervenor, Native Council of Nova Scotia;

Henry J. Bear, for the intervenor, Union of New Brunswick Indians.

Solicitors of Record:

Bruce H. Wildsmith, Barss Corner, N.S., for the appellant;

Attorney General of Canada, Halifax, N.S., for the respondent;

Attorney General for New Brunswick, Fredericton, N.B., for the intervenor, Attorney General for New Brunswick;

Daley, Black & Moreira, Halifax, N.S., for the intervenor, West Nova Fishermen’s Coalition;

Burchell, Hayman, Barnes, Halifax, N.S., for the intervenor, Native Council of Nova Scotia;

Getty, Bear, Fredericton, N.B., for the intervenor, Union of New Brunswick Indians.

This appeal was heard on November 5, 1998, before Lamer, C.J.C., L’Heureux-Dubé, Gonthier, Cory, McLachlin, Iacobucci and Binnie, JJ., of the Supreme Court of Canada.

On September 17, 1999, the judgment of the Supreme Court of Canada was delivered in both official languages and the following opinions were filed:

Binnie, J. (Lamer, C.J.C., L’Heureux-Dubé, Cory and Iacobucci, JJ., con­curring) – see paragraphs 1 to 67;

McLachlin, J. (Gonthier, J., concurring), dissenting – see paragraphs 68 to 116.


R. v. Marshall (D.J.), Jr.

(1999), 246 N.R. 83 (SCC)

Supreme Court of Canada
Reading Time:
1 hour 7 minutes
Binnie, Cory, Gonthier, Iacobucci, L’Heureux-Dubé, Lamer, McLachlin 

Binnie, J.
: On an August morning six years ago the appellant and a companion, both Mi’kmaq Indians, slipped their small outboard motorboat into the coastal waters of Pomquet Harbour, Antigonish County, Nova Scotia to fish for eels. They landed 463 pounds, which they sold for $787.10, and for which the appellant was arrested and prosecuted.

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