MNO Secretariat Act Update

Information Update and Additional Frequently Asked Questions

December 4, 2015

This document provides an update on the status of the Métis Nation of Ontario Secretariat Act, 2015 (the “Act”) and provides answers to additional questions that the Métis Nation of Ontario (“MNO”) has been receiving from MNO citizens and elected leadership.

Debriefings on Bill 153

As indicated in MNO President Lipinski’s memo of December 3rd, 2015, the MNO is now undertaking debriefings for local, regional and provincial MNO leadership to explain the legislation in greater detail.

Last night, the Provisional Council of the Métis Nation of Ontario (“PCMNO”) held a conference call and had a full briefing and Q&A session with the MNO Executive and the MNO’s legal counsel (Jean Teillet, Jason Madden and Margaret Froh) on Bill 153.  The PCMNO continues to move forward on advancing the unanimous direction from the 2015 MNO Annual General Assembly (“MNO AGA”) to secure this legislation.

MNO citizens or Community Councils are encouraged to contact members of the PCMNO for more information or if they have questions or concerns about Bill 153.  As well, MNO citizens are encouraged to visit: /news--media/news/metis-nation-of-ontario-secretariat-act where there is additional information.  If there are Community Councils or MNO Regions that would like to have a debrief and Q&A by way of a conference call with the MNO Executive and MNO legal counsel, please contact Margaret Froh, MNO Associate Chief Operating Officer at 1-800-263-4889 or at margaretf@metisnation.org.

Status of Bill 153

As previously indicated, Bill 153 has received its 1st reading.  It is hoped that the 2nd reading and passage of the Bill will occur as soon as possible, however, the MNO does not have control over the Ontario legislature’s processes.  The MNO will keep people updated on developments as they become available.

Support Letters for Bill 153

Consistent with the direction from the 2015 MNO AGA, MNO citizens and Community Councils are asking how they can provide letters of support for the passage of Bill 153.  Template support letters have now been developed. Please contact Joanne Meyer, MNO’s Director of Intergovernmental Affairs, who can assist you with these letters and get them to the appropriate contacts.  Joanne can be reached at 1-800-263-4889 or at joannem@metisnation.org.

Additional Frequently Asked Questions

Why is the MNO incorporating a Secretariat if we are an Aboriginal nation?

The Métis Nation of Ontario―as the government of the Métis people in Ontario―has never been and will never be incorporated. Similar to other Indigenous peoples, the Métis Nation has the inherent rights to self-government and self-determination.  We will never give that up.

However, until such time as the MNO is able to negotiate with the Crown the full legal and jurisdictional recognition of our self-government, we needed to create a legal and administrative arm to receive funding from government as well as to conduct the business affairs of our nation.  In 1994, the MNO Secretariat was first incorporated under Ontario law by former President Tony Belcourt as well as other Métis leaders.

For 20+ years, the MNO Secretariat has been incorporated under provincial law.  This legislation does not put the MNO “under the thumb” of the Ontario government any more than what was done in 1994. In fact, this legislation provides special recognition and accommodations for the MNO Secretariat―as the legal and administrative arm of the Métis Nation―rather than treating it like it was in 1994, as a mere non-profit corporation with mere membership not citizenship.

Will MNO Community Councils be automatically incorporated or forced to incorporate?

No.  If the legislation passes, the status quo within the MNO is maintained until the MNO puts a process in places that allows for willing Community Councils to incorporate.  The MNO will be undertaking province-wide consultation in 2016 to begin discussions on how this may happen.  No Community Council will be incorporated unless it wants to. This will involve a negotiations process of converting a Council’s Charter Agreement to “letters patent” and then the MNO will give notice to the Minister.  This will be driven by the MNO―not the Ontario government.  It is also important to note that a Community Council will be able to stay in its current form pursuant to its Charter Agreement forever, if it so chooses. The incorporation process within the legislation creates a vehicle for incorporation, which some Councils have repeatedly requested.  Again, the legislation does not require any Community Council to incorporate or change their existing practices in any way.

What are the benefits of this legislation to the MNO compared to what we currently have?

  • It will be the first time in Ontario history where legislation recognizing the Métis people generally or the MNO specifically is passed.  This will increase the recognition and respect for the MNO’s unique governance structure amongst governments and others.
  • The legislation explicitly recognizes the MNO’s unique governance structure that represents its citizens and Métis communities at the local, regional and provincial levels.  It also recognizes that these citizens and communities are a part of the Métis Nation of Ontario.
  • The legislation provides the MNO a series of modifications and exemptions from upcoming changes to Ontario Corporations Act that would cause difficulties for the MNO’s unique governance structure (i.e., having to have elections at annual meetings instead of by way of province-wide ballot box elections based on the MNO Electoral Code, making it an offense to use the MNO citizenship list for inappropriate purposes, legal protections for the use of the name of the MNO and its Community Council, etc.)
  • If they so choose, the legislation allows for Community Councils to incorporate under the MNO and remain as a part of the MNO’s overall governance structure while obtaining greater autonomy as separate legal entities.  This has been a repeated request for years by some Community Councils, however, MNO has not had the ability to do this.

Additional information on the benefits and specific of the legislation is available at:  /news--media/news/metis-nation-of-ontario-secretariat-act.

Where did MNO get its mandate to work with the Ontario government on this?

There have been repeated, unanimous calls from MNO AGAs to secure legislation that recognizes the MNO’s unique governance structure.  In August 2015, following a presentation on the various aspects of the legislation, the MNO AGA (as the highest governing authority of the MNO) passed a unanimous resolution directing the MNO to attempt to secure this legislation.

Does this change the MNO Bylaws or my rights as a citizen?

No.  The legislation actually acknowledges that MNO citizens have “defined rights and responsibilities, as set out in the Secretariat’s constituting documents and by-laws” (Preamble, para 2) and does not alter those.  These remain internal issues for the MNO to deal with.

Does this take away the rights of youth to vote within the MNO?

No.  While youth 18 cannot be legally liable for debts, lawsuits, etc. as directors or councillors of the MNO’s corporate entities, the MNO’s self-government governance structure still allows for youth votes to be recognized at MNO AGAs, PCMNO, Community Council meetings, etc.

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