Monday, March 16, 2009

BC Conservative Party blasts BC Liberals not consulting business, public on Recognition and Reconciliation Act affecting First Nations land claims

The BC Conservative Party has today blasted with both barrels BC Premier Gordon Campbell and the BC Liberal government over its Recognition and Reconciliation Act - which it first introduced and then temporarily withdrew from the Legislature.

UPDATE NOTE: The Act was never formally introduced in the Legislature and therefore was not withdrawn. See the BC government's official release below this original item.

Conservative Party leader Wilf Hanni says in a news release that the Act - which is strongly supported by First Nations leaders - should have never been introduced with full public consultation because of the impact it will have on land claim settlements.

Hanni, who received over 4% of the vote in last year's Vancouver Fairview by-election and whose party also received a similar percentage in the Vancouver Burrard by-election - has said the BC Conservatives will run candidates in 20 to 30 ridings in the May provincial election.

Here is the BC Conservative Party news release in full. The Union of BC Indian Chiefs and the BC government obviously take a very different view - which can be seen in their own news releases linked here as well.

* * * * * *
March 16, 2009

BC CONSERVATIVE PARTY CRITIQUES GIVEAWAY OF PROVINCE

The Gordon Campbell Liberals latest legislative stunt has business leaders and ordinary citizens alike scratching their heads, wondering why he wants to hand over title to the entire Province to a small percentage of the people.

In a complete turnabout from his previously stated positions Campbell has introduced the so-called "recognition Act" unilaterally enshrining in law aboriginal rights and title (which the Supreme Court has already said must be taken to mean land title).

Since BC's natives claim all of British Columbia, much of it several times over by competing bands, this would appear to give away the entire province to one minority group without any consultation or debate on the wisdom or practicality of such a move.

Wilf Hanni, leader of the BC Conservative party said today that "this move is really bad for British Columbia because it virtually ensures that all economic growth will cease. In the subsequent uncertainty businesses will not be able to acquire rights to extract natural resources or even obtain
from government the right to operate in British Columbia without potential court challenge."

Hanni added that not even existing title to private property, including your own home, is safe under this act.

"Virtually the entire population of British Columbia could become tenants instead of homeowners, without even receiving compensation for the loss of their property," said Hanni.

"Such an ill-considered move just before an election is mere vote-fishing, and is not based on sober consideration of the possible consequences. Campbell does not know what will become of crown lands, or even of the titles home owners thought they had to their own properties. Will all land titles become null and void under this scheme?"

"What authority will the Province or a municipal government still have to collect taxes, to issue business licenses, grant building permits, build roads, or engage in any activities that affect a single square centimetre of land?"

He went on to point out that granting such sweeping special privileges based on ethnicity is morally wrong.

"BC Conservatives believe in the founding principle of the equality of all citizens. We recognize that Aboriginal British Columbians have not always received equal treatment but that does not entitle them to now receive special treatment that relegates the rest of the population to secondclass
status."

"Why didn't Campbell consult business, get a legal opinion, hold public hearings, even hint this was coming to his own MLA's? Doesn't he think British Columbia deserves representative government? Is this kind of unilateral decision making on one man's whim what we are to continue to expect if the Campbelites are re-elected?

"Premier Campbell has now bowed to pressure and agreed to delay this ill considered legislation until after the election, but he still intends to introduce it at that time. He must be defeated so he cannot carry out that threat" said Hanni.

Why not elect a government that does care about consultation, that won't act unilaterally, that will protect the rights of all British Columbians equally? Why not vote for change you can trust?

* * * * *

News Release:

March 14, 2009
Office of the Premier
First Nations Leadership Council


STATEMENT ON RECOGNITION AND RECONCILIATION ACT


VICTORIA – Premier Gordon Campbell, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation Michael de Jong and the First Nations Leadership Council: Regional Chief Shawn Atleo of the BC Assembly of First Nations; Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs; and Grand Chief Ed John of the First Nations Summit made the following statement today regarding the status of the Recognition and Reconciliation Act:

“Over the past several weeks many important issues, concerns and questions have been raised about the Discussion Paper for Implementing the New Relationship and the concept of a new Recognition and Reconciliation Act.

“This is the time for us to make this important and historic transition in our government to government relationship and we need to take the time to make sure we get this right.

“As the parties to the discussion paper, together we need to take the time for consultation and further discussions before tabling this bill.”

The Premier and Minister de Jong will continue to engage with the business community on this important initiative.

-30-

.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Are The BC Liberals Facing An Election Issue- You Betcha

By Ben Meisner

Monday, March 16, 2009 03:45 AM

The confidential paper prepared by bureaucrats in the provincial government is summed up in one paragraph ,” That the relationship between indigenous Nations and the Crown is a government to government relationship in which both parties exercise authority to make decisions including about how the lands and resources will be used and the resources shared”.

The purpose of the legislation will be to;

“Enable and guide the establishment of mechanisms for shared decisions –making in regard to planning, management and tenuring decisions over lands and resources.”

If ever there was a reason for the public to stand up and request a complete reversal of that position it is now, not after the Liberal government has been re-elected and they can hope that our memories do not serve us well.

If we allow this type of legislation to make the order paper whether it is before or after an election, we are heading down a very slippery slope, by adding a new level of government, unelected by the majority of the people who can impose their will on those people.

If the province is hoping to read something into the Supreme Court decisions concerning aboriginal land title they would do well to remember that no final court decision has actually found aboriginal title anywhere in Canada. If the province is bent on trying to impose their will on the people they will find that death in office can come not only from one fatal mistake or cut, but rather from a host of smaller cuts, the death however is the same.

The caucus of the Liberal party has had its finger in the air sniffing the breeze and understanda full well what the problems are of the reigning Liberal government and what it would take to unseat them.

Make no mistake, any move either now, or following an election will be met with a reverberation in the province. There was a referendum held on the matter some years ago, the people spoke in no uncertain terms. To now say that the bill will not go before the legislature until after an election should mean only one thing, it should and will become and election issue.

In this instance however the province will have to do better than just suggest that it will not revisit the bill, there remains a bitter taste in the mouths of the people along the old BC Rail line who were told that BC Rail was not for sale only to find that immediately following the election that decision was quickly reversed.

Gordon Campbell and the Liberals of BC may have just laid on the table the biggest election faux pas of their reign. The NDP have to do nothing but sit back and watch the Liberal party faithful eating out the center of the party for a move that they are dead set against. The strong hold of the Liberal party comes from the center and the center of the party does not or will not like any bill remotely resembling the confidential document.

I’m Meisner and that’s one man’s opinion.

Anonymous said...

Have you not seen the "Legal Observations Concerning the "Discussion Paper on Instructions for Implementing the New Relationship""?

Written by Thomas Isaac and Keith Clark and dated March 9.

Looks to me as if it was requested by and done for a group of fairly powerful members of the business community....

I think it's pretty clear Rod Mickelburgh and Vaughn Palmer had a copy of it in front of them when they wrote their recent columns on the subject.

raver said...

Dig the bass beats.
Ouch ouch ouch.

Anonymous said...

Bill Tieleman, I will tell you what it is all about.
It`s about Run of River,Private for Profit Power.
The Campbell goverment and Plutonic power and others could merely wave a few million dollars in front of HUNGRY FIRST NATIONS and give them a small peice of the pie and .....
Shazzam, the goverment and first nations and Plutonic Power create more run of rivers,and.....
The local people,citizens,municipal councils,mayors,would have absolutely no input,and when the people of BC get angry,Gordon Campbell would merely say, its not the goverment,it`s the first nations people`s rights!
But be rest assured if Campbell wins the may12/2009 election he will ram it and jam it down the throats of BCers.
I have no ill-will towards first nations,but this recognition act is about doing an end run around the people of BC.
Thank goodness others businesses that aren`t in the run of river theft game are putting their backs up!
Campbell has gone too far.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Anon. 4:35PM. What would happen to the ALR, Regional District, sforest reserves, etc. They would be open for development the way lands were for the logging companies. This is very dangerous. Campbell has no regard for the First Nations people, this is just smoke and mirrors. he is setting us up for a massive resource give-away.

Anonymous said...

It strikes me as strange is that BC Conservatives would trash the BC Liberals . . . since both are one in the same.

A BC Tory is to a BC Liberal as Gordon Campbell changing his underwear from light blue to medium blue and at that only his "executive assistant" would know.

The GREAT SATAN

BC Mary said...

.
I want to confirm that this is true ...

As Meisner says:

... there remains a bitter taste in the mouths of the people along the old BC Rail line who were told that BC Rail was not for sale only to find that immediately following the election that decision was quickly reversed.


and that the $3. Gordo bill will be back in circulation as genuinely phony legal election tender ... that there are still many BC RAIL signs on the overpasses on Hwy 97 North ...

and that the Universe is unfolding as it should.

Thanks, Ben and Bill.

.

DPL said...

I mention that Phil Hockstein today made noises about the lack of consultation on this flawed piece of paper. Was Phil trying to smooth the waters for King Gordo? Gordo was trying to do an end run around the modern treaty process just as he did in Tsawassen. The Constitution is clear as was the BNA. It's the fed who runs thing.

The treaty process was set up to allow BC to be at the table with the fed and the bands to iron out a "Bundle of rights". I will however remind us all just what the Supreme Court of Canada had to say about title. "Two ways to prove title, in courts or negotiate," with their preference being negotiate. Another small aside. As BC was preparing to join Canada, the fed asked about treaties and were told , all of BC was under treaty. A bit of a fib as those areas under treaty were the 14 small Douglas Treaties and a small section under treaty eight. I will mention I did sit on a Regional Advisory Committee for treaties, was a speaker at the standing committee debating Nisga'a( Mike Dejong was one of the members and wrote a disenting minority report as both Gordo and he were dead against a treaty with Nisga'a)and attended well over seventy main table negotiations as an observer, was refered to as a Watcher of the process, and still remain a firm believer in the modern treaty process, as long as Gordo keeps his hands out of things. As it is right now, Indians can do a lot of things on crown land that no one else can do without permits and putting up some monney. Unfortunatly the leader of the Opposition will sign on to the deal either as opposition leader or as the next premier. Why do we elect losers? Nobody wants Indians to get shafted, but not many want to see the rest of us get shafted either.

peter kelly said...

This proposed (and now delayed) legislation actually exposes a weak area of the BC Liberals. In 1996 and 2001, the Liberals campaigned on hardline conservative views in areas of native land claims. They had to compete with ReformBC for the right-wing vote. This new legislation puts them at odds with the right-wing voters who have stuck with them for all this time. But now the Liberals have some minor competition on the right, the BC Conservatives...small - but in tight contests, competition in what you thought was your own support base can be fatal in politics.
To the conservative voter, to watch the BC Liberals flip flop on this (along with other scandals that come to mind) is enough to lose patience with the party.
I don't think the BC Liberals know how much this might damage them.

Anonymous said...

There is, of course, another possibility. That this sucker was designed to be stillborn from the outset.

In fact, there is, to my knowledge, no 'draft' legislation to actually criticize. The 'discussion paper' Mr Meisner mentioned was drafted, not by professional legal draughtsmen and women in the Attorney General's ministry, but by Jessica MacDonald and De Jong's deputy in consultation with representatives of native groups.

In fact, there is a rumour in government, among the professionals who understand the process of creating a workable and CONSTITUTIONAL piece of legislation, that the only lawyer present at the meetings where the 'discussion paper' was written was on the Natives' side of the table.

The legal opinion - entitled 'Legal Observations Concerning The "Discussion Paper on Instructions for Implementing the New Relationship"' - upon which Palmer's, Mulgrew's and Hume's comments yesterday were clearly based - was written by Tom Isaac and Keith Clark at the request of four well known business leaders. And all they'd seen was the discussion paper as well.

I don't know if you've seen Isaac and Clark's 'observations' Bill, but you'd do well to dig up a copy - it's much more insightful than Wilf Hanni's thoughts.....

Cheers.

Anonymous said...

Wow!! It never ceases to amaze me the underlying racism of the Conservative Party ... I'm just waiting for the posting of a "toothless bearded settler" chuckling with a whiskey filled laugh - "Why Are They Mad; We Stole Their Land Fair and Square!!" *Hyuck, Hyuck, Hyuck ...

G West said...

Bill, your first para is incorrect - I know you're probably quoting but the 'Bill' was NEVER INTRODUCED.

Please refer to the legislative docket, here,
http://www.leg.bc.ca/38th5th/1st_read/index.htm

for legislation getting first reading this session.

G West said...

Thanks for that Bill.

G West said...

In fact, as events have transpired it is clear there NEVER WAS a bill to be introduced. What the government was actually up to is unclear...the limited coverage, including Justine Hunter's piece in today's G&M makes one wonder exactly 'what' has been going on.

I would really appreciate it if someone would post all the relevant documents (the "Discussion Paper"; the '"Legal Observations" on the Discussion Paper'; copies of the limited commentary in the press and the Response of the BC Assembly of First Nations to the 'Legal Observations').

The people of the province have a fundamental right to know and understand what is being discussed and contemplated in this province and in their names.

If you could provide this material in one place where discussion could beging Bill, it would be a great service to BC.

G West said...

As the Premier's Press Release makes clear, there is one group of people who are entirely LEFT OUT of whatever you want to call the current 'process'.

I'll quote the egregious and self-serving statement again, this time putting in bold the words which make clear that this government and its leader don't give a damn about the PEOPLE of BC, from whom their power comes:

STATEMENT ON RECOGNITION AND RECONCILIATION ACT


VICTORIA – Premier Gordon Campbell, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation Michael de Jong and the First Nations Leadership Council: Regional Chief Shawn Atleo of the BC Assembly of First Nations; Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs; and Grand Chief Ed John of the First Nations Summit made the following statement today regarding the status of the Recognition and Reconciliation Act:

“Over the past several weeks many important issues, concerns and questions have been raised about the Discussion Paper for Implementing the New Relationship and the concept of a new Recognition and Reconciliation Act.

“This is the time for us to make this important and historic transition in our government to government relationship and we need to take the time to make sure we get this right.

“As the parties to the discussion paper, together we need to take the time for consultation and further discussions before tabling this bill.”

The Premier and Minister de Jong will continue to engage with the business community on this important initiative.

If that doesn't make clear where these thugs get their marching orders, nothing will.