Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Tieleman opposes Tsawwassen Treaty between First Nation and Provincial, Federal Governments over farmland exclusion from Agricultural Land Reserve

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Column Tuesday January 16, 2007

New treaty a sham

By BILL TIELEMAN

One does not sell the land people walk on.

- Crazy Horse, Lakota warrior, 1875

The tentative treaty between the Tsawwassen First Nation and the provincial and federal governments must be rejected.

It is totally unacceptable that the treaty terms would take 207 hectares of valuable farmland out of the Agricultural Land Reserve and turn it over to the Roberts Bank port terminal for container shipping expansion. And a further 278 hectares of farmland could also be turned into an industrial wasteland.

One can only hope that the Tsawwassen First Nation members themselves will vote against this agreement for that reason, even though it is worth well over $120 million.

But if not, it is up to the British Columbia Legislature to vote to send the treaty back for renegotiation.

Unfortunately, what should be a positive development in B.C.'s long history of neglect of rightful aboriginal land claims is instead a looming disaster that would both destroy precious farmland and discourage future treaty settlements.

The reason is clear - the treaty with the Tsawwassen First Nation is wrongly being used by the provincial and federal governments to remove farmland from the Agricultural Land Reserve that could never be taken out otherwise.

And the enormous increase in land value that comes from paving it over to expand the port is being used to pay for the deal.

This isn't about helping aboriginal people up - it's about helping big corporations out. It's about using a treaty to do the unthinkable - turn productive farmland into an asphalt parking lot for containers shipped from China.

That's just wrong.

Fortunately some Tsawwassen First Nation members are expressing opposition.

"I want to see some guidelines. I don't want to see containers stacked up. It will be a real eyesore," TFN member Bertha Williams told the Delta Optimist last month.

No one should blame the Tsawwassen First Nation for doing the best it can to improve its members' circumstances.

But the B.C. Liberal government is another matter.

Premier Gordon Campbell can easily give the Tsawwassen First Nation the significant financial compensation it deserves from the government' $2-billion surplus this year.

Instead his government is using the Tsawwassen First Nation treaty as a way to pull farmland out of the Agricultural Land Reserve and to save money while doing so.

The Dave Barrett NDP government introduced the ALR in 1973 to preserve B.C.'s rapidly disappearing farmland from both residential and industrial development.

Today's NDP MLAs need to continue that tradition by fighting to preserve the ALR while continuing to push for fair treaties for First Nations. Liberal MLAs should do the same.
Treaties should be about righting past wrongs - this treaty would simply create yet another one.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Bill, I do agree that ALR land shoudn't be a bargaining chip.Used to be that if a band got some in a treaty deal, it remained under the same rules as everyone else. So who changed what? When the present governemtn took over, things like established policy papers got impossible to find. The province will be handing over ALR land in other places as well. But I guess that follows the old story of Wacky Bennett when he was told there is little agricultural land. No problem said Wacky you can buy the stuff cheaper from California.

Another big issue that few people are aware of is, the non Indian Occupiers will still have no input on things around them, even though taxed by and legislated by the band. Those are things people have fought wars over. Will the official opposition argue against these deals? You got to be kidding. Rights of the minorities will come up, the Honour of the crown, and we will all hear about the stewards of mother earth. Makes ones head shake. Being allowed to have an audience with the band bosses by the folks paying the taxes and subject to band laws, just doesn't cut it. My God, even the Royal Commissison said so.Oh well, the area will improve with all those containers and maybe an extra parking lot or three

Anonymous said...

It's sad but true, most people have very little undestanding of the treaty business. They get exicted years down the road instead of keeping their eye on the dealing. Both you and Wilcox have written on the issues and very few respond. A lot of this province is shifting control and who seems to care? A few. Some of the bands have loaned so much money the financial settlements will basically be spent paying the bill. Unless of course the government write off the debt. Something they swore wouldn't happen Gordo wants a treaty and heck, it's only the taxpayers money, I find it weird as a left of center person agreeing with some things being said by a conservative, and disagreeing with folks I would normally support. The present treaty process has shifted since this provincial government has taken over. One serious consideration will be, the tax transition period. I'm talking municipal type taxes. The federal self taxation scheme which only occupiers have been paying to keep the roads and sewers working will stop at noon on the first treaty day. So where will the money come to keep the new deal running? Oh the occupiers will get stung again,as the bad folks will be exempt for years, or have to wait for the transition time to end.

I too disagree with some of the things in this treaty and beleive it or not, I actually read the damn thing

D. Rodney Smelser said...

Chief Baird wants to put a warehouse and container park on farmland.

That facility will be developed by some major commercial corporation on terms favourable to them, with the Tswassen Band members receiving a modest rent.

Besides the loss of agricultural land, what about the destruction of migratory bird habitat that the Canadian Wildlife Service is supposed to protect? Which agency, if any, is doing a full environmental assessment of the impacts of converting this farmland to a light industrial business use?

In exchange for these losses of farmland and wildlife habitat, how many jobs will be created and at what pay levels? I too want this treaty defeated.

Anonymous said...

This whole process stinks; blunt yes, but still the truth. Let's put aside the issue of ALR land for a moment, and focus on the critical issue here - what is this process suppose to be resolving because ultimately the ends must justify the means.

If the treaty process is suppose to resolve fundamental social and economic issues that are plaguing aboriginals in this country, then the treaty process in this Province is not going to work. The singular isssue that continues to plague aboriginals, as others in our society, is one of dependency. To change this, there is a need to empower aboriginals economically, politically, and socially.

Unfortunately, this current process is not addressing these issues. Its just throwing taxpayers money at the problem. Is anyone out there aware that, regardless of the settlements, aboriginals will still have access to the same priviledges and handouts they are currently receiving including free schooling and no taxes; thus, the chains of dependency will continue. Where is the incentive to succeed if aboriginals can keep coming back to the public trough? If this is the case, then the ends - sacrificing valuable agricultural land and millions of taxpayer dollars, does not justify the ends.

Anonymous said...

You should all know that Bertha Williams is working with other CP Holders who are dumping fill on their lands and they are planning to build container storage areas on their lands for the Port. This deal is in the works with Colliers, a real estate agend and Farris Vaughn etc, a law firm. opinion

Anonymous said...

I shake my head in amazement also. This was not your land in the first place. That money your crying about goes for all your cities/towns infrastructure.
All our resources has paid for it.
Your talking millions, well our resources has been in the billions and billions of dollars in your pockets.
You feel sick at having no say, well try not having it for a couple of hundred years or more.
natives do a bit of business and you can't take it. Theres a bill for natives for treaty negotiations. We shouldnt be paying, and be driven to outlandish debt. The whole treaty negotiations process is so flawed, we will end up worse off then before.