Document Type


Publication Date


Source Publication

(2015) 20 Review of Constitutional Studies 1-29


This article examines the application of the theory of the unity of the Crown in Canada in the context of Indigenous peoples. It reveals a consistent retreat by the courts from acceptance of the theory in the late nineteenth century to rejection of it in the second half of the twentieth century. This evolution of the theory' relevance, it is argued, is consistent with Canada federal structure and eventual independence from the United Kingdom. However, in a startling reversal, the Supreme Court reverted to the theory in its 2014 judgment in Grassy Narrows First Nation v Ontario (Minister of Natural Resources) to support its decision that the provinces have control over natural resource development in the areas of Canada that are covered by the numbered treaties.


This article is formally published in the Review of Constitutional Studies.