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.
Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs
Government treaty info on the Internet: http://www.aaf.gov.bc.ca./aaf/
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.