Jul 22/98: Nisga'a 'treaty' rift threatens BC economy


Globe and Mail
July 22, 1998, p. A4
Craig McInnes

[S.I.S.I.S. note: The following mainstream news article may contain biased or distorted information and may be missing pertinent facts and/or context. It is provided for reference only.]

A nasty public fight over the historic treaty reached with the Nisga'a last week would undermine British Columbia's economy, Premier Glen Clark warned yesterday. "It would plunge the province into serious uncertainty, and uncertainty is very bad for investment," he said. "This would clearly be a blow to both our economy and to any notion of reconciliation." Rejection will also send a negative message to aboriginal people, Mr. Clark said. "It will mean that people will have rejected the first modern-day treaty...Aboriginal people will see it as a message to pursue either confrontation and/ or court action rather than treaty negotiation."

Regardless of public reaction to the agreement, which must be ratified by the Nisga'a, the House of Commons and the provincial legislature, the BC government is committed to supporting it. Ottawa has committed to ratifying the deal as accepted by the negotiators last week. The fundamental issues are not up for renegotiations, federal treaty negotiator Tom Molloy said in an interview. But a negative public reaction will jeopardize negotiations on the more than 40 other treaties which cover most of the province, Mr. Clark said.

Meanwhile, Liberal Leader Gordon Campbell, who said he was not ready to comment on the draft because he had not yet read it, accused Mr. Clark of brinksmanship to persuade people to support the agreement regardless of its merit. Mr. Campbell surprised the legislature yesterday by tabling 19 chapters of what he said was the draft agreement, which is not being released officially until a formal ceremony August 4. British Columbians have a right to know now what is in the treaty, he said. "This is a major, major initiative, and I don't think it's something that should be managed in terms of public relations."

The government is planning a $2.3 million information campaign about the historic deal. Mr. Clark has also said that a second native band's decision to go to court to try to stop the deal is evidence that both sides made concessions.

Letters to the Globe and Mail: letters@GlobeAndMail.ca

Back to SIS