Native Liberty, Crown Sovereignty: The Existing Aboriginal Right of Self-Government in Canada // Review

Article excerpt

University College of Cape Breton sheds a necessary light on the issue of self - government. Speaking directly from the perspective of the Imperial Crown, this book demonstr ates that aboriginal self - government has always been an existing constitutional right. The author's thesis is that Aboriginal sovereignty and Crown sovereignty complemented each other in Canada. The Crown claimed ultimate sovereignty, but promised not to molest or disturb the tr ibal cultures; this included recognition of the right of self - government. The book continual ly supports this thesis through a strictly legal analysis. Interestingly, this narrow viewpoint brings clarity and power to the issue.

Without addressing the broader moral, anthropological and philosophical iss ues, the book demonstrates that it was the immigrants' need for self - government which create d the problematic issues of Canadian political thought and identity. This work illust rates that the insecurities and desires of the immigrants twisted aboriginal and treaty rights until they could no longer be recognized. Aboriginal and treaty rights enshrined in prerogative laws were viewed as merely another obstacle in their quest to be the political equals of their mo stly European ancestors. The prerogative rights were hidden by their desire to be more than a collection of immigrants living off aboriginal wealth and talents. It is a strange tale, but closer to the truth than most Canadian myths. …