Thursday, August 09, 2007

Is Tieleman an "extremist columnist"? Doug McArthur, former Deputy Minister to Glen Clark, appears to think so over Tsawwassen Treaty opposition

Doug McArthur, a former colleague in the office of BC NDP Premier Glen Clark and now a professor of public policy at Simon Fraser University, seems to believe I am an "extremist columnist" causing problems through my opposition to the treaty between the Tsawwassen First Nation and the provincial and federal governments.

In a Vancouver Sun opinion piece today, McArthur blames problems the BC NDP is having with the Tsawwassen treaty on myself and others who put MLAs on the spot over the treaty's exclusion of 207 hectares of protected farmland from the Agricultural Land Reserve - one of the key parts of the deal.

"The real source of the trouble and the larger failing was the inability of the NDP caucus, under pressure from a small group of extremist columnists and activists, to understand and accept aboriginal rights and the compromises necessary to achieve treaty settlements," McArthur writes.

"Without this, the political stunt giving rise to the problems now facing the NDP would never have been attempted in the first place," McArthur continues.

McArthur - who fails in the article to even disclose his role as an advisor to the Tsawwassen First Nation and Chief Kim Baird - is dead wrong. NOTE - McArthur told Mike Smyth on Nightline BC Friday that he informed the Sun and they did not include that in his article.

I find it offensive that McArthur can't accept that a principled view other than his own can be legitimate, honestly held and - most importantly - not "extremist".

McArthur has previously used the term "extremist" regarding my views and those of others who oppose the exclusion of prime farmland from the ALR in the Tsawwassen treaty - most notably Richmond Councilor Harold Steves, a former NDP MLA and longtime farmer and agrologist.

On April 19 McArthur and Baird debated Steves and I on the treaty before ratification by the TFN and McArthur said there that: "Extreme positions deny the facts and the law. They also fly in the face of justice."

Let's be clear - both Harold Steves and I support treaties where First Nations wish to negotiate them to end historic injustices.

But negotiation is not capitulation.

I have said that the Tsawwassen treaty is a huge land grab for expansion of the Deltaport terminal, so that containers from China and elsewhere will have a bigger parking lot at the expense of prime farmland that BC desperately needs.

BC Liberal Premier Gordon Campbell used the Tsawwassen First Nation and this treaty to achieve his goal of Deltaport expansion without having to request the farmlands be removed from the Agricultural Land Reserve - a request that would likely have been denied.

The Tsawwassen First Nation will turn their new lands over to Deltaport for a fat cheque worth tens of millions - they will not be using it for farming or anything else.

That's why I've consistently said save the farmland and write a cheque for the TFN members, who would also be better off without further port expansion near their existing lands. Or find another solution that saves the farmland but don't pave it.

The real problem the BC NDP has - contrary to McArthur's misleading article - is that it won't stand up for protecting farmland if it means angering the Tsawwassen First Nation and opposing the treaty on those grounds.

One can support righting historical wrongs without making another one - the permanent loss of farmland for industrial development.

Doug McArthur's position is otherwise - fair enough. But stop throwing the term "extremist" around to describe those who philosophically disagree with you - it demeans those who use it, not the targets.


Budd Campbell said...

I find it offensive that McArthur can't accept that a principled view other than his own can be legitimate, honestly held and - most importantly - not "extremist".

An eloquent statement Bill.

I feel similarly when some people claim that the position of those in the NDP who support this Treaty on balance is somehow completely incomprehensible, that no one could come to that position unless they placed absolutely no value whatsoever on protecting farmland.

As I argued on PublicEyeOnline, I would have opposed this Treaty since I believe that another, better deal could have been had if this one was rejected, and I do place a higher value than some people on protecting not just farmland but wildlife habitat, in this case for millions of birds.

Surely I don't need to add that I find your bashing of Carole James position on this issue to be just as harsh as McArthur labelling your position extremist. It's unforgiving and abusive of the audience, an unsophisticated line of argument put forward by people who just assume their audience is made up of prototypical B.C. populist numbskulls.

And by the way. If you think McArthur is being rude to you, ... what kind of excoriation are you expecting from Terry Glavin when he gets round to it?

Anonymous said...

Doug is way off base calling folks extremists because they don't agree with Carole James position of dropping party, and what was treaty policy. The only line she missed was "Honour of the Crown" in her ramblings. Doug, don't shoot at the messangers. You were on salary before the NDP got the boot and you lost your job. Did you have a different opinion then about ALR land? Did you help write the policy papers for treaties? Did you tell anyone who you worked for at the time? I cannot recall ever seeing or hearing from you in my ten years hanging around assorted treaty tables, public meetings, standing committee presentqtions or regional advisort Committee meetings. Never heard of you in the TNAC reports either. Sure must have been a shy fellow. I did run into a few ex deputies around treaty tables. So I guess I really can't have a opinion on the utterances of someone hired by the Tsawwasen band to try to lobby folks to support the band and to hell with past policies just to get a treaty . But I will, so I guess I'm a bad person as well. Granted had you been around the tables you should have known the NDP policy was against passing over ALR Land without safeguards, or is it that, your alliance and beliefs go with the pay check?
I understand Graham Bruce is on staff of a band since he lost his MLA job.He might be looking for some help. So should you pick up some more consulting work with another band, will you then go along with Ms. James story that the party will encourage Gordon to follow the ALR policies? Don't give up your day job at the University. Contrary to another poster on this line, I don't believe Bill has bashed James all that much. Bill like many of us don't think James was being too sharp. He simply explains a number of points a lot of would be experts seem to develop a rather instant opinion that just can't be wrong in their mids at least.

It is down right insulting to see ALR land shifted from the reserve by Campbell, handed over to the band and expect to see a long term lease, just as the chief of that small band said she would do, to a coal port expansion.What ever happened to concerns of the bird flyways and bird sanctuaries in that area? Dollars sure talk for folks who see no problem with supporting an Opposition leader position, if it fits with the folks who hired him position. So she can't seem to keep her story straight. But gosh don't pick on her becasue she fell into line with a Premier who passes out tax dollars for airplane rides and if you vote the right way big amounts of cash up front.( It's called buiyng votes in most places)Nobody ever paid me to support the modern treaty process. But our associations did support in a big way. We lived on reserves and saw the stories happening around us.WE supported treaties because the status quo wasn't working. Farness for all, accountablity and a few other things. Maybe Doug should spend a few years on site with no salary before deciding anyone with a opinion different that the folks who hired him are simply bad people. The NDP have lost a lot of face, and will probrably continue to do so. And folks will keep reporting their stupid waffling. I don't fins Bill's comments indicate that he thinks the audience are populist numbskulls. But if one reads some of the comments of some folks who have done little to educate themself on the treaty process but suddenly can decide who is right and who is worthy of their attention. DL

Bill Tieleman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bill Tieleman said...

Budd - I don't see how you can equate my position on the Tsawwassen treaty and my disappointment with Carole James' stand on it with Doug McArthur labelling me and treaty opponents as "extremists".

I have not used any such language about Ms. James and I insist on having a principled debate on important public issues.

Anonymous said...

A Failure of Leadership

Of this there can be no doubt:
Carole James and the NDP dropped the ball on the Tsawwassen First Nations' treaty.

The NDP should have publicly stated their position (for or against) and rationally defended that position.

Shamefully sitting on the sidelines while a major policy was being developed and implemented only shows the majority of voters that the NDP are not yet ready to lead.

Fortunately, most people will not remember this folly come the next election - but rest assured: the BC Liberals and pundits of all stripes will remind us.

Budd Campbell said...

Budd - I don't see how you can equate my position on the Tsawwassen treaty and my disappointment with Carole James' stand on it with Doug McArthur labelling me and treaty opponents as "extremists".

I have not used any such language about Ms. James and I insist on having a principled debate on important public issues.

Bill, a week from today I will be 57. That means that I am old enough to know that when B.C. populist political operatives say "principled" what they mean is "stuff I like".

Can you please tell me how the following quotations display any respect whatsoever for the difficult choice Carole James had to make, or any acknowledgement on your part that others might honestly see things differently:

“Sadly, the BC New Democratic Party has given up its historic role of defending farmland ...
Having repeatedly refused to take a position prior to the Tsawwassen First Nation vote yesterday, today NDP Leader Carole James issued ...
James supports the treaty despite understanding the intention ...
This unfortunate decision by the BC NDP is one that may have grave consequences not only for the future of BC farmland but for the future of the party.”

“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?”

Bill Tieleman said...

Budd - I turned 50 this year so I can safely say I'm old enough to understand BC's populist politics. I am also proud to be a populist.

I still don't understand why you can't see a difference between my fair political comment that Carole James' position has been a "huge disappointment" and Doug McArthur describing opponents of the Tsawwassen treaty as "extremists".

But you are welcome to that opinion and you are also welcome to voice it here - I'm not afraid of a debate or of taking my lumps as you see fit!

Budd Campbell said...

Bill, you know very well that 50 is pretty damned youthful, so once again you're just resorting to trick arguments!

I am not defending McArthur's denunciation of you or other columnists as extremists. How can I since I too would have voted against this Treaty if I was asked.

However, as between your description of Carole James as a disappointment and a person who has violated basic principles, and calling someone an extremist, ... what's the difference? It's pretty caustic, unforgiving stuff either way, and it proves to me that you do not view Carole James as a political friend or colleague you wish to remain on good terms with.

The passages I quoted gave James and the Caucus no leeway at all on having to make a difficult choice. Instead, their viewpoint is portrayed as wrong and incomprehensible. You may have used more words than the one word descriptive "extremist", but you're playing the same black/white game as McArthur. So I really don't see where you're in any position to complain about his wording.

Proud to be a B.C. populist? Well, B.C. populism includes a variety of streams, from Randy White to Dave Barrett. It's done some good, and it's also done much harm. What I really object to is the B.C. populist assumption that every Canadian who lives here is a complete and utter idiot, a totally unsophisticated individual with no mind of their own and no access to other sources of opinion or information, and no ability to ponder things for themselves. It's a kind of Grace McCarthy/Yvonne Cocke world where voters are pawns who will happily accept any dumbed-down, black or white, hot-button view of important issues.

I believe we need to protect the ALR from housing and industy. But the NDP Govt allowed the Six Mile Ranch exclusion (which Tsawwassen Treaty opponent Rafe Mair promoted for years) in order to get more job growth. So there are times when an economic argument for exclusion has been found acceptable by New Democrats. Perhaps that exclusion was over your heated objection, I don't know.

I don't happen to think this case in Tsawwassen is one of those where the economic argument can prevail because of the greater scarcity of farm land in the lower Fraser Valley and the fact that these lands, or at least parts of them, are more than just farm properties. They are also part of a wildlife wetland that supports huge flocks of migratory birds.

In Maple Ridge we are seeing conflicts between agriculture and wildlife values, where the Aquilini Investment Group has been filling in ditches along the edges of commercial berry operations that supported birds and even small fish and beavers. It adds an immaterially small amount to agricultural output, but detracts from the natural environment and human enjoyment of the walks and bikes along the dyke system. Yet the ALR officials aren't interested, because their mandate is promoting agriculture, pure and simple.

Anonymous said...

I think our Environment Minister and Agricultural Minister will have to vote "No" on this misguided treaty.

Anonymous said...

First, I appreciate Bill for raising this issue and getting a debate going, even if I disagree with him.

As an Aboriginal person in the province it is great to see non-Aboriginal folk, primarily on the left, fret and worry about the treaty process. It must be difficult to watch something you care and support threatened by a seemingly unstoppable force. I suppose I could relate to a degree.

However, it must be said that the ALR exclusion in the Tsawwassen deal is a major step forward for those First Nations who are in the treaty process. The lack of available quality Crown land is one of the main reasons why treaties have not been signed; this is not limited to urban centers either. Still, there was no guarantee that this agreement would be passed by the band membership, and I believe in your criticism of this treaty you need to address the role of the membership.

It is disconcerting to read that this is a Gordon Campbell deal. What about the band members who voted for this treaty? Isn't it their treaty? Do non-Aboriginal people in BC really appreciate the level of uncertainty and distrust that Aboriginal people have towards the treaty process?

I don't think so. It seems that the protection of land that has been ALR for only 30 years or so is somehow more important than settling a centuries old question in the province. If the NDP supports treaties then it must realize that its opposition to the ALR exclusion is a non-starter.

Perhaps it does not matter as Aboriginal people are a small, disenfranchised community that does not vote beyond band elections, and the occasional treaty referendum. I suppose we are small potatos compared to the staunch ALR lobby.

At the end of the day it is not going to make a difference is it? The treaty will be passed by the House of Commons and the Legislature. Meanwhile, every First Nation at the treaty table will have an appealing new avenue to pursue to regain a portion of their unceded traditional territory.

One final question is bothering me though. Has Bill, or any other opponent of the Tsawwassen Treaty, thought of a way to address the First Nations need for quality land beyond the ALR? Is there really an interest in addressing the interests of First Nations who are in the treaty process?

Bill Tieleman said...

Thanks to the last Anonymous poster for a thoughtful addition to the debate.

I call it a Gordon Campbell deal because the Premier took the land out of the ALR after previous negotiations under the prior NDP government had left it in.

Chief Kim Baird of the Tsawwassen First Nation, however, has also said that not getting the land out of the ALR was a deal-breaker - so she is also responsible. But Campbell is the main political leader involved in this and must bear much more responsibility than individual TFN members who merely voted yes or no.

The problem I have with the previous poster's argument is that one must either be for treaties or for the Agricultural Land Reserve - I don't agree and I support both.

I think in this particular case it's clear that the TFN is not using the land for traditional practices or for housing its members but merely to turn it over to Deltaport expansion for a lot of money and maybe a few jobs.

That's why I've argued that BC should fairly compensate the TFN for the value of keeping that land for farming as part of the treaty.

But because Campbell and big business wants the port expansion and needed the land out of the ALR, it was perfect to use the TFN's interests and their own to cut this deal and pave the farmland.

As to the last comment, I do not have an easy solution but I also do not think that merely turning Crown land over to First Nations will resolve historic injustices. It is definitely a component and more in some areas than others but there have to be other solutions as well.

Anonymous said...

Do we need a new Political party in BC , a party that looks out for the children of tomorrow & not just the business interests of today ?

If the BC NDP keeps walking in line with & to the right of Gordon Campbell , all they are going to do is re-elect Gordon Campbell's party in the next BC Election ie: The NDP must have known the Ledge was raided on drug warrants (prior to the last election ), & they said nadda about it . WHY ?

Steve Dockeray
Milner BC

Anonymous said...

The subject of available land was brought up by a poster just above .

There has been a position since the modern treaty process began. It was and still is. The fed put up most of the money as there ins't that much federal land available in BC. In Nanaimo some federal land was put aside as no ministry bid to use it. The Fed. bid system has been around even longer than the treaty process.I was there, the day that decision was made and it was open for all to see. The land available is usually provincial crown land which represents some where around 90 percent of the land. With that idea in mind a system of willing seller, willing buyer had been put in place way back when. With treaty processes getting closer to town the Willing Buyer Willing seller got a fair amount of interest at many negotiating tables I observed, and at Regional Advisory Committee meetings, which I belonged to, representing third party interest groups and I believe at TAC meetings as well, which was Municipal folks with their assorted interest.We didn't attend but found out a lot of their positions ,from assorted members and senior staffers. So some flexibility existed and the three parties knew it. I mentioned before that ALR lands were not on anyones radar as the ALR regulations and all provincial laws would apply to any attached( Newly aquired land as part of the process) lands.

Some company wanted more land and they found an easy way to get it.

Go see Gordon and voila, the band got offers to Lease out the ALR Land with no restrictions. Bill mentioned before, as have others that the previous government had negotiated with Tsawassen for a long time but would not release ALR lands without the same conditions that any other buyer was to follow. If everyone is to end up being equal the laws must apply equally on land outside the origional reserve, set aside land. So that's where we stand today. It's sort of crazy that the treaty process, always open since Mike Harcourt was Premier, was ignored by most citizens in the province. Suddenly something changed and the instant experts came out of the woodwork. The associations I represented supported treaty process with vocal, and great interest. I cannot and will not support my MLA Carole James on the way she broke a policy of the party that was formulated prior to her ever getting elected. And to add insult to it, she supported a broken treaty policy position as well. So lets stop attacking Bill or others whpo draw your attention to the blunders of the Opposition leader. My God even some of tha caucus publically stated their lack of satisfaction of the Tsawassen final. If you want to attack anyone , try Campbell for shifting the process, paying money to folks to assist them in voting "The right way". My Gosh even a Conservative MP has been telling us it was a underhand deal. I can and will attack my MLA for her actions.
Bill has managed to get a few folks off the couch for abit , to argue events, which is a good hting, but by gosh there are others who like bill are quite prepared o debate on treaty issues. He must have leanded a few thing when working for the previous government, And some others dd pick up a few inters by being at or around the tables and even reading he policy papers around modern treaties.And of course the Yukon, Nisga'a. and any other final agreement that were finalized but not voted on. DL

Anonymous said...

Just to follow up from the last post; I am critical of Carole James' leadership on this issue, and I am not attacking Bill personally.

On the first point, I wonder how Carole and the NDP Caucus can approve ALR exclusion for the Tsawwassen but prohibit it for any other First Nations. What sort of message is that? If the NDP is going to oppose ALR exclusion and still support the treaty process then say so. Carole's message on this is bewildering.

Secondly, I am not attacking Bill personally, I don't know him beyond the points he raised on this issue. In fact I expressed my gratitude for creating a space to debate this and other related points. I understand what he is pointing out on the ALR. I agree that protecting agricultural land is important, but with so few options available for First Nations, the ALR exclusion option is very attractive.

You must understand that First Nations want to gain as much land from their traditional territory as possible because they have a connection and obligation to the land that is deeply sacred. Some may say that this is nonsense, but that is the prevailing attitude in my nation and I talk to folks about this sort of thing on a regular basis. They also believe that the ALR designation is meaningless as the land is unceded territory to begin with.

I realize that it is difficult to come up with alternatives; treaty negotiations have been bereft of options for many years. That is why this Final Agreement has appeal.

Maybe there are opportunities for co-management. Perhaps the province can reach agreements on eco-management for large areas of a certain First Nation's traditional territory. If the province has committed to sustainability principles in a specific land base, and a First Nation agrees to that why not put that obligation in treaty?

The reason is that the province, as well as the federal government on other issues, does not want to fetter its decision making authority. This impasse, this flaw in the fundamental principles of Canadian federalism, as I see it anyway, is at the heart of what is wrong with the treaty process. There simply is no room for First Nations governance within the current framework of treaty.

Some First Nations may take an approach similar to Tsawwassen; the Westbank First Nation comes to mind. The proximity to hyper-urban and industrial development, such as Tsawwassen, provides an immediate economic benefit that may be hard to resist.

Many other First Nations are in the hinterland of the province and will not be enticed by this approach as it does not have the same legs. While many other First Nations reject the treaty process on principle due to the lack of Crown recognition of Aboriginal rights and title.

If there is one provincial policy that can use a dose of insightful, and progressive third party critique it is the treaty process. First Nations have been critical for years, largely to no effect.

Unfortunately for the NDP, the BC Liberals have taken this issue from the party and are not looking back. The BC government's ratification of Tsawwassen, as well as the New Relationship (whatever it means) and its asserted commitment to deal with the issues has earned the cautious endorsement of from a host of First Nations leaders. To discount this development is pure folly.

What has happened to the NDP? Where is the party that signed the Nisga'a Treaty, fought Campbell, de Jong and Plant tooth and nail over its ratification, and was loud and proud of its opposition to the referendum on treaties? The answer to this question must go beyond criticisms of Carole's leadership.

Bill Tieleman said...

Thanks to DL and the Anonymous commenter following at 10:41 p.m. for their informative posts.

I have taken no offense whatsoever to the comments, please be assured, and even if I get criticized that's fair game here - I do the same to others!

The point made that First Nations don't accept Agricultural Land Reserve designation because they feel the territories they claim are unceded is an important one.

There are many compromises that First Nations are required to make to reach a final settlement - taxation on their land is one of the biggest, for example.

ALR designation for some will not be even an issue but in urban areas it will be increasingly critical.

The challenge for First Nations, in my view, is that if land is central to a claim, how does the First Nation then turn around and sell that land to the highest non-aboriginal bidder without losing credibility?

In Tsawwassen, the TFN will sell the farmland removed from the ALR to the Deltaport and watch it be paved for container storage for the most part.

In Musqueam, the Band would turn the UBC Golf Course over for condominium, housing, shopping and perhaps even casino development.

What that says is land is money - which it is.

But if that is the message, non-aboriginals will say: "Okay, here's a cheque because we don't want that land used in the way you are willing to sell it off."

And that will be increasingly a hard position.

If First Nations believe land = money, and not traditional usage, then non-aboriginals will refuse to part with land and will insist on money settlements.

That may not be a bad thing but ultimately treaties should provide opportunities for First Nations members to escape poverty and find their rightful place in society.

Allowing opportunistic governments to use legitimate First Nations grievances to meet their own narrow and selfish goals will only end badly in my opinion.

Lastly, the previous poster rightly asks what happened to the NDP which fought the divisive and outrageous BC Liberal referendum and opposition to the Nisga'a Treaty.

Gordon Campbell went to BC Supreme Court personally to fight the Nisga'a Treaty. His Chief of Staff Martyn Brown worked for an anti-treaty organization before joining Campbell.

Have these leopards truly changed their spots?

Thanks again for these comments - the debate is very necessary.

Anonymous said...

Yes The bands want more land and the options are limited. The suject came up often at negotiating tables. We all would like more land, or any land for that matter.

But first lets remind ourselves that traditional land as mentioned was somewhat over 110 percent of the total province when folks were first asked, "what is your traditional land area". It's called overlaps and even in Tsawassen there is an overlap. It was up to the assorted bands to debate among themselves just how that would be worked out. Almost forgot a couple of farmers whose land was expropriated years ago are somewhere in the mix.

The fed has little land in BC. Most people know that. In Nanaimo some federal land was not being used. It was an ex militaty space. Federal land around Chilliwack is presently underused as well. Some land around Royal Raods was mentioned now and again. The normal method of selling the land meant all federal ministries agreed they didn't want to buy it from the present ministry. That land by Nanaimo was set aside for possible inclusion in the treaty settlement. But for only a period of time. The fed did so to increase the speed of negotiations.
Musquiem showed a lot of interest in federal lands out toward the university in the Kits area, along fourth and Broadway .Included on that land are a number of family homes for military folks and down the road a bit is space where the NRC has set up shop. All such things are negotiable.

Private land is not supposed to be in negotiations. There is also the policy of "Willing seller, willing buyer" That was being considered on as island ouside Naniamo. I could go one but hopefully you get the picture. Land that if identied as possible for willing seller willing buyer would have the seller immedialty up the price with the idea that the band would really really want that land. As I have mentioned often, ALR land was not mentioned often because the policy was very clear. If you get it, as new land to increase your land base, you will be under the same regulations as any other ALR land purchaser. Bill has mentioned that as well. So to try to convince oursleves that the Tsawassen need the land to build homes on or grow things is simple not the case. The chief as we have all mentioned publically anounced"No ALR land with any incumrances on it will mean no treaty" So we knew that she was planning to lease it out long term to a coal port enlargment to bring in money, some for the band and lots for the coal port, but not for the bands use. The willing buyer idea is still sound.

Increase the funding in the treaty, the the band can go finds some willing buyers and purchase land that is available. Most bands have shown an interset in land butting up against the reserves to make it easier to manage. But any of that land will be subject to provincial laws. The present reserve land will have some exceptions to provincial and federal laws but those exceptions are limited. Gordo has removed ALR land, and declared it something else with no conditions. If the band today stated they would not be leasing it out long term to the port, I have no doubt the deal would change. Let's get real folks. It's more for the coal port than it is for a very few folks presently called Indians on some federal land called reserves. The cash component could be increased for additional land purchase. But really, are we talking about additional land for inceased band numbers or as more places to rent out to other industries, leaving a number of band members living out of the area. Those off reserve folks can vote in band decisions and might well rally enough support to stop such developments. With the inclusion of income taxes,over time the province will get their hands on some money from both aprites and more than if it was for family housing.

Take a look at Westbank. 9,000 occupiers and less than 400 band members on site. And of course the band will be responsible for infrastructure, sewer water and such. And they better deliver as under treaty the band or individual members can sue or be sued. This is not that good a deal for the Tsawassen in my view, but they are doing it and our opposition leader is saying. Hey its good for Tsawwasen but she is not sure about anywhere else. the words, inconsistent, Dither, when mentioning her comes to mind. And one more thing this writer has long been a supporter of the modern treaty process. DL

pip said...

The guy is a poet and don't know it. Extremist Columnist? It only goes to show there must be a vast left wing conspiracy!

Stephen Samuel said...

Well, your position on the Musqueam /UBC golf course deal are pretty much incomprehensible to someone who presumes that you have been paying attention to the basic facts of the case.

The golf course deal isn't a giveaway to the Musqueam because the land has always been recognized as theirs. It is a part of their reserve lands which was improperly leased away from them by the federal government back when the Musqueam were being held in the dark, and the government was supposed to be caring for their lands in a fiduciary trust relationship.

Even back then, when the land was relatively worthless, that lease was for a song and a prayer.

That land, and it's lease has been the subject of a long drawn-out lawsuit, and the agreement to give it back to them, but with a 25 year promise that it will remain a golf course is the result of out-of-court negotiations over that lawsuit (which the Musqueam are winning).

To call the reversion of an improper lease a 'giveaway' indicates either a complete misunderstanding of either:
1) the basic facts,
2) the principles of business law, or
3) the principle of truth in reporting.

Feel free to pick your defense.

Mark Crawford said...

Before my family moved to Williams Lake in 1973, we lived in Tsawwassen, a beautiful rural community that was rapidly sub-urbanizing (my old home became a parking lot in the Reed Shopping Centre). As someone whose earliest childhood memories were of a cows' field in the back yard, and a chicken farm behind Boundary Bay Elementary School across the road, I viscerally support the view that Dave Barrett's Agricultural Land Reserve was one of the most far-sighted pieces of legislation ever passed in this province.

Now, the NDP , worried that the Liberal government of the day may appear to be more friendly to native interests than they are, have decided to go along with Tsawwassen treaty--even though the treaty is far from being supported by the whole band, and is really inimical to Delta's character as BC's prime agricultural community.

To be fair to the NDP, it is equally the father of both the ALR and the Treaty process--and it is understandable that it should be torn. But the message that should be broadcast in the media is that the Campbell government did not negotiate this particular deal because it cares more about native treaties than the NDP does. It did so because it cares LESS about the ALR than the NDP does. The government's actions around the deal in Burns Bog and in the Roberts Bank Deltaport Expansion--reflecting Campbell's longstanding preoccupation with property development--are at odds with the historic role of the ALR and indeed the historic role of the municipality of Delta.

I would have supported this deal too, but with the very big difference that I would have those 207 hectares remain in the ALR. (Yes, probably in exchange for more cash and/or other commercial opportunities.) The basic premise of the ALR is that the accumulation of alluvial soil over many thousands (millions?) of years to create one of the world's most fertile river valleys in a province that is 95% non-arable is a precious gift of nature and/or the Creator, and therefore should not simply be left to the vagaries of real-estate speculators and developers. Is that not congenial to the First Nations outlook? How could it not be? Is aboriginal title simply about the right of First Nations governments to let private actors speculate and develop as they wish? A small First Nation community ostensibly attuned to keeping the land in its pristine state could still own it and lease it for agricultural purposes. It could also participate in the management of nature preserves--whether in the ALR, provincial parks, the Forest Land Reserve, ecologically acceptable fish farms, or elsewhere. That would also be a sensible compromise for the party of Dave Barrett and Mike Harcourt--the party that created both the ALR and the Treaty Process in a province where the Socred/ Liberals would not have created either. It would also represent a sensible reconciliation of sovereignties--which is what the treaty process ultimately should be about.

First Nations should be asked to become partners in the ALR, instead of simply partners in eroding the ALR. Yes, there is a political risk that the Liberals could be seen as getting the upper hand politically in their commitment ot the Treaty Process. But that is a communications challenge that could be met, especially in view of the fact that they didn't give a hoot about treaties until just 4-5 years ago. To repeat: this deal doesn't show that they care more about the Tsawwassen First Nation: it merely shows that they care less about the Agricultural Land Reserve. That is the message that should be made loudly and clearly to the people of British Columbia.