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Queen Elizabeth won’t intervene in N.W.T. devolution act

CBC News

Queen Elizabeth says she will not intervene when it comes to Bill C-15, the act to create devolution in the Northwest Territories.

Dene National Chief Bill Erasmus wrote a letter to the Queen in January, telling her Ottawa is attempting to breach Treaties 8 and 11.

Many aboriginal groups in the Northwest Territories have expressed opposition to the Conservative's devolution bill, which, if passed, would transfer powers over land and resources to the territorial government. In an unexpected move, the bill was also drafted to include a proposed merger of the Northwest Territories’ four land and water boards into a single superboard.

A response to the letter, written by the Queen's senior correspondence officer, says "this is not a matter in which the Queen would intervene."

However, it does note that staff have been instructed to forward the letter to Canada's Governor General, David Johnston.

Erasmus says that's a win for him, and he hopes it sends a clear message to Ottawa.

“The Parliament and the PMO has very limited authority over us,” Erasmus says, “and this is what negotiations are about between our people and the Crown is clarifying what that relationship is. It's not a subordinate one. It is, at the very least, at an equal level.”

Erasmus says he'll request a meeting with the Governor General before devolution comes into effect on April 1st.

He hopes Johnston won't sign Bill C-15, thereby striking it down.

The Dene Leadership, including all the aboriginal groups around the N.W.T., plans to meet March 4 in Dettah, to discuss the bill.

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