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Author Topic: Litany of concerns’ delays bill for natives  (Read 2971 times)


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Litany of concerns’ delays bill for natives
« on: March 15, 2009, 02:45:12 PM »

Litany of concerns’ delays bill for natives
Action on expanding rights postponed until after election

By Katie DeRosa, Times Colonist March 15, 2009

The provincial government and First Nations leaders will postpone a controversial bill expanding the rights of aboriginal people until after the election, allowing more time to consult with business and industry groups left out of the decision-making process.

Aboriginal Relations Minister Mike de Jong was set to introduce the proposed Recognition and Reconciliation Act to the legislature this month, but announced Saturday it would be delayed.

Grand chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, cited a “growing litany of questions, concerns and issues” from First Nations, business and industry leaders. “We felt it was reasonable to postpone the legislation until there is an opportunity for broader consultation,” Phillip said.

Announced at a First Nations summit earlier this month, the legislation would recognize First Nations people as the original inhabitants of the province with their own laws, governments, territories and title to land. It would also give First Nations decision-making powers and a cut of the revenues from their traditional land, which includes mining, forestry, fisheries and other economic development. That came as a shock to the business community.

“There were some serious issues and concerns that needed to be addressed in the act,” said Rick Jeffery, CEO of Coast Forest Products Association. He pointed, for example, to the complex legal process of determining a revenue-sharing agreement between businesses and aboriginals.

The government has heard concerns from the mining and forestry industries, the B.C. Business Council and chambers of commerce worried about “unintended consequences” of the act, said Jeffery, who has been in talks with the government over the issue in the last few weeks.

Norman Ruff, political science professor emeritus at the University of Victoria, said the government demonstrated “undue haste” in trying to rush the act forward. Industry groups who will be affected were left out of the consultation process until recently, he said.

“Alarm bells started to ring in the business community,” Ruff said, adding their biggest concern is how much aboriginal land rights will expand beyond what the courts have already recognized.

Ruff said instead of putting the act on the legislative backburner, the government should have tabled it as an “exposure” bill, allowing submissions and making clear that it is open to changes until it can be revisited after the election.

First Nations groups said they are confident the bill will not die after the May 12 election.

“We remain firmly committed to having this brought forward after the election,” said Shawn Atleo, B.C. regional chief with the Assembly of First Nations. The goal is to strengthen the act and create benefits for business and aboriginal communities, Atleo said, so that once it passes, B.C. will be seen as the most attractive investment area in the country.

In the next few months, the government will consult industry players and First Nations groups to create more certainty around aboriginal land title, said de Jong.

“People need to have a clear understanding of what is proposed,” he said — something that’s unrealistic before the provincial election.

The act is meant to bring aboriginals, the government and the business community together, not create division, de Jong said.

The University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University will hold an open forum March 20 at the Wosk Centre for Dialogue in Vancouver where people can ask questions and share feedback about the proposed legislation.
© Copyright © Canwest News Service

Could be in error here, but the scuttlebutt on the street suggests El Gordo had to be forced by his own caucus to delay this one due to fears over the potential impact to their party in the upcoming election. If true, this represents amongst the first of such occurrences here in BC. Too Little, Too Late IMHO. Looks like the Fool at the Helm kinda forgot where his support base has historically been, and has raised the ire of the business community, all in an effort to garner the FN vote. ::)
There's been more than sufficient grounds for concern that have been blatantly ignored by this gov (small "g" intentional) to this point. Thus, my mind is already well made up, and Gordo & The Clowns don't even enter the picture.



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Re: Litany of concerns’ delays bill for natives
« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2009, 04:16:22 PM »

so..if they get their own laws and government...does that mean we still foot the bill for all of their projects?
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Re: Litany of concerns’ delays bill for natives
« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2009, 04:55:47 PM »

I smell something fishy here. What better time to discuss it than before and leading up to the election ?