May 14/98: Plan to streamline treaty talks hits snag


Victoria Times-Colonist
May 14, 1998, p. A7
Dirk Meissner

[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 plan to simplify BC treaty talks has become complicated again, Aboriginal Affairs Minister Dale Lovick said Wednesday. Aboriginals are now distancing themselves from a plan designed to speed up and streamline the negotiation process, he said. The First Nations Summit, the largest aboriginal organization in the province, is backing away from a federal-provincial-aboriginal proposal to pick up the pace of treaty negotiations, Lovick said. After almost five years, the talks have yet to yield a single signed treaty.

The three sides spent six days last month discussing a streamlined process, as well as a December court decision that favored aboriginals. There was no official statements following the April meetings, but Opposition Liberals leaked two documents Wednesday related to the talks. "We thought we had agreement on a package, but the summit advises that their people didn't accept the whole package," Lovick said. Summit leaders were on their way to meetings in the Yukon and couldn't be reached for comment Wednesday. Forty-nine of BC's almost 200 aboriginal bands are involved in treaty negotiations with the provincial and federal governments.

BC is still committed to streamlining the process, said Lovick, but negotiations with Ottawa and aboriginals are on hold for now. The Delgamuukw court ruling threatened government's hold on valuable Crown lands and, since then, business has been reluctant to invest in property where ownership is an issue. Liberal Leader Gordon Campbell said one leaked document contains a model of how to remove the cloud that hangs over who has title to Crown lands. It suggests aboriginals release to Canada and BC any rights not spelled out in the treaty, he said.

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