Greg McDade Aboriginal Law Constitutional Law Resource Projects | Ratcliff LLP

Gregory J. McDade KC *

Senior Counsel
604 988 5201
[email protected]

Legal Assistant
Kim Kayley
[email protected]

Greg is an established and respected legal advisor to First Nations in British Columbia, Northern Canada, and Ontario with a background in criminal and environmental law. As a result of his deep expertise in negotiation of impact benefits agreements, Aboriginal consultation and accommodation, and litigation, he has participated in many landmark cases that continue to impact interactions between Aboriginal and non-Indigenous legal frameworks in Canada. In addition, Greg serves as general counsel and provides business advice to a number of larger First Nations on business, mining, oil and gas and resource land use issues.

Greg has extensive experience in Business, Major Project and Accommodation Agreements, including:

  • Whistler/Blackcomb Master Development Agreements
  • Prince Rupert Port Expansion, Road-Rail Terminal, Canpotex Terminal (potash), Ridley Coal Port (for Coast Tsimshian)
  • British Columbia pipeline issues (oil, LNG. Enbridge, Kinder-Morgan)
  • Yukon (mineral and Final Agreement implementation)
  • Pacific Trails Natural Gas Pipeline limited partnership (for 15 First Nations, Carrier – Sekani)
  • Mining Agreement Negotiations (interior B.C., Yukon, Ontario)
  • Tree Farm Licence and Forest Licence purchases and General Counsel (Lax Kw’alaams and Squamish Nations), formation of Whistler Community Forest Licence)
  • Sea – to – Sky Highway Accommodation Agreement (Squamish)
  • Proposed Ski Hill developments (Garibaldi, Coquihalla)
  • Forest and Range Agreements
  • Independent Power Project negotiations (Lower mainland, interior, and North Coast)
  • BC Hydro Transmission lines negotiations (Lower mainland, interior, and North Coast)
  • Land Use Planning, Squamish Nation Xay Temixw Land Use Planning process (2001), Lax Kw’alaams (Prince Rupert),
  • Real Estate Development, corporate and negotiations advice

Greg has also received a number of Public Policy Appointments:

  • Burns Bog Ecosystems Review (1999-2000) BC Government
  • Gulf Islands National Park Public Consultation (2000) Federal Government
  • Inquiry into the Draining of Downton Lake (1996) BC Min of Environment

Greg has extensive experience before all levels of Court, including Supreme Court of Canada, Federal Courts, and BC Supreme Court and Court of Appeal.

Notable Experience

Leading First Nations Litigation

  • Kamloops v. BC and Canada, Pre-Colonial Reserve litigation (in settlement discussions)
  • Tzeachten First Nation, Skowkale First Nation and Yakweakwioose First Nation et al. v. CLC et al. (BCSC), an aboriginal title and colonial reserve claim (settled);
  • Saik’uz and Stellat’en First Nations v. Rio Tinto Alcan et al, the first case to go to trial to enforce nuisance law based upon aboriginal rights
  • Rio Tinto Alcan v. Carrier-Sekani Tribal Council (2011), Supreme court of Canada, consultation in respect of damming of the Nechako River
  • Deh Cho v AG Canada (2011), supporting establishment of the Edezhie Protected Area, 25,000 in NWT
  • Kwikwetlem v. BCUC (2010, BCCA), Interior to Lower Mainland Hydro transmission line
  • Huu-ay-aht v. Min. of Forests (2005, BCSC) Province’s FRA policy declared invalid;
  • Squamish Nation v. MSRM, (2004, 2005, BCSC) inadequate consultation on Garibaldi ski hill;
  • Tsawwassen First Nation v. Port of Vancouver, (2004) civil action re Port, Ferry activities, (settled with Accommodation Agreement);
  • Deh Cho Dene v. Canada, (2004-5, Fed Court) Mackenzie Valley Pipeline, (settled with Accommodation Agreement);
  • Haida v. Minister of Forests, (2004), Supreme Court of Canada and BC Court of Appeal (2007), counsel for Intervenors (Squamish and Lax Kw’alaams), and (1996) counsel for Haida at trial on first Petition re TFL;
  • Esquimalt and Songhees Nations v. Canada and BC, (2006) Victoria Legislative Buildings site; {settled}
  • Gitxsan v. Min of Forests (2002, BCSC) consultation re TFL transfer;
  • Mathias v. Canada, (1997-9, Fed Court), Senior Co-Counsel (with John Rich); Squamish Nation action re former Kitsilano reserve; longest Federal Court trial in Canada

Environmental Litigation

  • Morton v. British Columbia, (2010), provincial regulation of aquaculture found unconstitutional
  • Counsel, Cohen Commission into the decline of Fraser River Sockeye Salmon, (2010-2011) (for Dr. Alexandra Morton)
  • MiningWatch Canada v Min. of Fisheries, (2010), Supreme Court of Canada decision re federal environmental assessment for mining
  • Greenpeace Canada v. MacMillan Bloedel (1996); Supreme Court of Canada decision re Clayoquot protests in 1994;
  • Friends of Oldman River Society (1991) Supreme Court of Canada decision establishing enforceability of Canadian environmental assessment;
  • NEB v Hydro-Quebec (1994); Supreme Court of Canada decision confirming constitutionality of environmental assessment;

News, Publications, & Presentations

Awards & Accolades

  • Appointed Kings Counsel (B.C.) 1996
  • Recognized in the 2022 and 2032  editions of Chambers Canada in Aboriginal Law – Representation of Indigenous Peoples (Band 2)
  • Recognized in the 2023 edition of The Best Lawyers in Canada™  as a leading lawyer in Aboriginal Law/Indigenous Practice. (Recognized consecutively since 2009)
  • Awarded ‘Lawyer of the Year’ (2011) for Aboriginal Law/Indigenous Practice by The Best Lawyers in Canada.

In the Community

  • Founding Exec-Director of Sierra Legal Defence Fund (now Ecojustice)
  • Honorary Board member, Ecojustice Canada Society (formerly Sierra Legal Defence Fund Society)
  • Honorary Board member, West Coast Environmental Law Association
  • Board of Directors, VanCity Credit Union (Canada’s largest credit union) (former Chair)
  • Former Board member, Smart Growth (B.C.), Citizen’s Bank of Canada, Labor Environmental Alliance Society and others


  • LL.B, University of British Columbia, 1978

Year Of Call

  • British Columbia, 1979

*Law Corporation