By BILL TIELEMAN
Let's face it - we are all here to stay.
The Tsawwassen First Nation can do the province a huge service tomorrow by voting "no" to its proposed treaty with the provincial and federal governments.
The best reason to vote no is because this treaty would remove 207 hectares of prime farmland from the Agricultural Land Reserve to be paved to park shipping containers at the Roberts Bank Deltaport.
Not only would Deltaport expansion make land around the Tsawwassen Reserve even more polluted, noisy and visually blighted, it could also increase opposition to treaties.
But more importantly, B.C. farmland is disappearing, making the province increasingly dependent on foreign sources for fruit and vegetables.
A recent B.C. Agriculture Ministry report states that to just maintain our current level of growing 48 per cent of the food we eat, B.C. farmers will have to increase production by 30 per cent by 2025 and boost irrigated farmland by 49 per cent.
We are indeed all here to stay and we all need farmland for our food. But how, when the B.C. Liberals give up farmland for industrial use?
Ironically, Premier Gordon Campbell has gone from vigorously opposing the Nisga'a treaty to expensively promoting the Tsawwassen deal.
The province flew 40 Tsawwassen natives to Nisga'a territory, spent $400,000 on communications to sell it to band members and promised elders $15,000 cash each if it passes.
At this rate, Campbell will be known as Big Chief Blank Cheque.
But New Democratic Party leader Carole James has also been a huge disappointment, promising twice to take a position on the Tsawwassen Treaty and twice reneging. Where does the NDP stand?
While NDP MLAs Guy Gentner and Corky Evans publicly oppose removing farmland, other NDP politicians dodge the issue, even though it was Dave Barrett's NDP government that created the ALR in 1973.
They shouldn't. It is not contradictory to support resolving aboriginal land claims in general while rejecting this deal in particular simply because of the farmland sell-out.
Excluding farmland to expand Deltaport is a B.C. Liberal invention. It's using the Tsawwassen First Nation's legitimate treaty interests to get a huge benefit for businesses that want port expansion.
But Tsawwassen First Nation members can easily fix all politicians' mistakes by voting "No" on Wednesday and demanding a treaty without the loss of farmland.