[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.]
WHISTLER -- The federal government hasn't done enough to convince British Columbians the Nisga'a treaty is a good deal and should spend more money supporting it, says Raymond Chan. Chan, the secretary of state for Asia-Pacific, said the Liberal government has not been "outspoken enough" in support of the controversial land-claims deal. "We need to do more," he said.
Chan agreed with Premier Glen Clark's recent comment that the federal government has to shift into high gear to support the Nisga'a treaty. But he said he and his six fellow B.C. Liberal MPs are hampered by a lack of money. "I think all ministers and the B.C. caucus have tried to speak up... we don't have as big a budget as the provincial government has, but there are some things we should look at on how we communicate better our position," said Chan.
Asked about the B.C. government's $5-million public-relations campaign, Chan agreed Ottawa should be prepared to spend as much in promoting the deal.
On Saturday, Indian Affairs Minister Jane Stewart skirted the issue of spending more to campaign for the treaty.
Opponents of the deal say it creates another level of government and amounts to a constitutional amendment. The treaty faces a lawsuit from the B.C. Fisheries Survival Coalition on those grounds and the B.C. Liberals also plan to launch a legal challenge to the deal.
So Chan's comments were welcomed by Clark, who has staked his political future on the land-claims deal. "It feels good to hear that," said Clark. "British Columbians should understand that this goes beyond me or the NDP. It's important for the future of the province, and voices supporting the treaty should be heard."