Committee Holds Public Meetings on Treaty Process

PROVINCE OF BRITISH COLUMBIA - NEWS RELEASE

Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs

August 6, 1996

LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE TO HEAR FROM PUBLIC ON TREATY PROCESS


VICTORIA - An all-party standing committee of the British Columbia legislature will hold public meetings and consultations on the issues critical to treaty negotiations, Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Cashore said today.

In a motion tabled in the legislature, Cashore asked that the select standing committee on aboriginal affairs "examine, inquire into and make recommendations on the application of key issues arising out of the Nisga'a agreement-in-principle to treaty negotiations throughout British Columbia."

He identified some of those issues as certainty and finality of treaties, size and access to settlement lands, entitlement to and management of fisheries and wildlife resources, taxation, financial and business implications, and aboriginal self-government.

"It is vital that British Columbians have the opportunity to make their voices heard and to know that their government is listening," Cashore said. "Referring these and other topics to the committee will generate a better appreciation of the issues and how they will be resolved and will lead to constructive public discussion about treaty negotiations."

The province has held 90 meetings throughout the province to listen to British Columbians on the Nisga'a agreement since its signing earlier this year. Negotiation of a final treaty will begin soon.

Committee hearings would not delay that process, Cashore said, nor would they delay negotiations with other aboriginal groups which are under way. The work of the committee will inform those negotiations and ensure they reflect all British Columbians' interests.

"Successful resolution of treaty negotiations is crucial to the economic and social well-being of our province," the minister said. "The select committee can ensure that by working together and reaching out to British Columbians, we achieve treaties that are fair, affordable and beneficial to all."

The 12-memeber select committee will be chaired by Ian Waddell (Vancouver-Fraserview).

"I'm looking forward to working with the committee members on this most-important challenge," Waddell said. "We have to do treaties right the first time and I am confident that by working together in an all-party committee we can make a positive contribution to the treaty process."

He said he expects the committee will begin holding meetings and consultations across the province after the legislature adjourns, once the committee has determined its agenda.

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Backgrounder attached.

Contact:
Peter Smith
Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs
(604) 356-8750
Government treaty info on the Internet: http://www.aaf.gov.bc.ca./aaf/


BACKGROUNDER

Parliamentary committees consider matters referred to them by the legislative assembly. Within its terms of reference, a committee is afforded total independence in its deliberations.

Committees can hold public hearings, call witnesses, accept submissions and report directly to the legislative assembly.

The committee system allows more detailed analysis of a matter referred to it than is available in the house or a committee of the whole house.

A special committee of selection of the assembly determines the composition of the current 13 select standing committees.

The select standing committee on aboriginal affairs consists of:

Ian Waddell, convenor     Vancouver-Fraserview
Harry S. Lali             Yale-Lillooet
Rick Kasper               Malahat-Juan de Fuca
Glenn Robertson           North Island
Bill Goodacre             Bulkley Valley-Stikine
Evelyn Gillespie          Comox Valley
Cathy McGregor            Kamloops
Bill Barisoff             Okanagan Boundary
Murray Coell              Saanich North and the Islands
Michael deJong            Matsqui
Geoff Plant               Richmond-Steveson
Jack Weisgerber           Peace River South

Biographies are available upon request.

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