The court hears arguments in case #28645, Ernest Lionel Joseph Blais v. Her Majesty the Queen, on March 18, 2003.
On February 10, 1994, Ernest Blais and two other men went deer hunting for food on unoccupied Crown land in the District of Piney, Manitoba. At the time, deer hunting was prohibited in the area pursuant to the Wildlife Act of Manitoba. M. Blais was subsequently charged with unlawfully hunting deer out of season. Mr. Blais argued that, as a Métis, he had a constitutionally protected right to hunt for food. He also argued that he had a constitutionally protected right to hunt for food on unoccupied Crown lands by virtue of the Manitoba Natural Resources Transfer Agreement. At trial, the judge rejected Mr. Blais’s arguments. The Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench and the Manitoba Court of Appeal upheld his conviction on subsequent appeal. Mr. Blais has now brought the case to the Supreme Court of Canada, which must decide if Métis people are entitled to benefit from the hunting provision for “Indians” in the Manitoba Natural Resources Transfer Agreement.
Lawyer Lionel Chartrand presents arguments on behalf of Mr. Blais. He responds to questions from justices Charles Doherty Gonthier and Frank Iacobucci.