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Justice

Canada appealing certification of RCMP class action


The federal government is appealing the certification of a $600-million class action lawsuit alleging RCMP discrimination against Indigenous people in the North. 

The suit was launched in 2018 against the Attorney General of Canada on behalf of Indigenous people who say they were subjected to excessive force by RCMP in the territories between 1928 and the present.

Federal Court Justice Glennys McVeigh formally approved the litigation in June 2021.  

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The following month, as reported by CBC earlier this week, the federal government filed an appeal of that certification, saying the issues should not be dealt with as a class action.

In court documents, the Attorney General of Canada argues that Justice McVeigh failed to provide adequate reasons for certifying the class action and “ignored the complex and multifaceted issues” involved in the case.

The federal government says those issues include the funding, operation and management of RCMP in the territories; the viability of the RCMP’s internal complaints process; legal justifications for the RCMP’s use of force; and the difference between proven facts and allegations.

The attorney general further argues that McVeigh failed to impose temporal limits on who can be included in the class and did not address concerns with the “vagueness, complexity and subjectivity” of the class definition.

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The class action alleges that Inuit, Métis and First Nations people are regularly assaulted by RCMP officers in the Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut because they are Indigenous.

The lead plaintiff in the case is Joe David Nasogaluak, who lives in Tuktoyaktuk. He alleges that in November 2017, when he was 15 years old, RCMP pushed him to the ground without provocation and proceeded to beat, choke, punch, and taser him while using racial slurs

The suit claims Canada has been systemically negligent and, in its oversight and support of the RCMP, breached its fiduciary duty to Indigenous people in the North and violated their charter rights.

The federal government argues it did not owe a duty of care nor fiduciary duty to the proposed class. It is asking that the certification of the class action be dismissed.

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