Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Government Lawyers Argue 60s Scoop Class Action Isn't a Matter for the Courts

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Government Lawyers Argue 60s Scoop Class Action Isn't a Matter for the Courts

Article excerpt

Govt wants permission to appeal 60s Scoop case

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TORONTO, Cananda - Lawyers for the federal government questioned whether the courts were the right place to grapple with the issue of aboriginal identity as they sought permission Wednesday to appeal the green-lighting of a class action lawsuit on the matter.

Counsel for those behind the suit, however, suggested those arguments be put forward at a trial and not at the leave to appeal hearing that took place in a Toronto court.

The lawsuit at the centre of the arguments claims a devastating loss of cultural identity was suffered by Ontario victims of the so-called 60s Scoop.

It refers to a period of time between the 1960s and the 1980s when thousands of aboriginal children were taken from their homes and placed with non-native families by child welfare services.

"The issue is hugely important, there's no doubt about that, and we've never said these people haven't suffered," Department of Justice lawyer Owen Young said in an interview outside court. "But when you drill down to the basics, the question is:'Is that a legal problem for the courts or is it a social-political problem?'"

Young suggested the Ontario judge who certified the lawsuit this summer could have erred in his decision.

"We're dealing with the way it's presented to the court," he said of the lawsuit. "The legal tools to deal with this aren't very good."

But lawyers for the representative plaintiffs said a leave to appeal hearing wasn't the place for the government to be laying out its arguments on the merits of the case.

"This was a procedural motion for certification," lawyer Jeffery Wilson said outside court of the decision the government wanted to appeal.

"The best place to test the legitimacy of this action -- that is the merits -- is not at this point, when it's all based on hypothetical arguments and submissions. Rather, it should happen once and when a judge has the opportunity to see people, to hear the evidence.... Nothing is tested here."

The case has been working its way through the courts for over three years. …

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