336 pages, 6 x 9
Release Date:01 Apr 2005

A Breach of Duty

Fiduciary Obligations and Aboriginal Peoples

UBC Press, Purich Publishing

In the landmark decision of Guerin v. the Queen in 1984, the Supreme Court of Canada confirmed that Canada has a duty to act in the best interests of Aboriginal peoples. This book tells the story of the federal government's breach of that duty toward the Musqueam people, their twenty-six year quest for justice, and the impact of the Court's decision on the development of Aboriginal law and the law of fiduciary obligations.

In the 1950s, Indian Affairs concealed the terms of a lease negotiated on behalf of the Musqueam of over one-third of their small reserve to the Shaughnessy Heights Golf Club in Vancouver, BC. The lease contained terms that had not been accepted by the Band members and locked the Band into low rental income for 75 years. It was only because of the diligence and tenacity of the Musqueam that justice was finally achieved in 1984 with the release of Guerin v. the Queen.

Against this background, the author discusses what fiduciary obligations are, unresolved issues regarding such obligations, and issues to consider in advancing or defending breach of fiduciary obligation claims. His thorough discussion includes the November 2004 Supreme Court of Canada decisions in Haida and Taku River. He also compares Canadian law with that of the United States, Australia, and New Zealand.

The legal battle of Guerin v. The Queen is one of the top three or four cases that have advanced Aboriginal rights in Canada in the 20th century. Beverly Cramp, BC BookWorld
...a fascinating book about a landmark case on Aboriginal rights. Stephen Hume, The Vancouver Sun
A significant contribution to our understanding of the Crown's fiduciary obligations and a very useful resource. Professor Kent McNeil, Osgoode Hall Law School
James I. Reynolds has practised Aboriginal law for more than 25 years, and was one of the lawyers for the Musqueam on the Guerin case. He is a partner with Ratcliff & Co. in North Vancouver, and holds both law and doctorate degrees from the London School of Economics. He has written extensively on Aboriginal and other legal issues, and has lectured at both the London School of Economics and the University of British Columbia.
Foreword / Chief Ernest Campbell, Musqueam Indian Band
1. The Historical and Legal Context
2. Roots of the Guerin Case
3. The Trial
4. The Supreme Court of Canada
5. Aboriginal Law in Canada Since Guerin
6. Fiduciary Law in Canada Since Guerin
7. American, Australian, and New Zealand Law
8. Questions Raised by Guerin
9. Procedure, Defences, and Remedies
10. Conclusion
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