Report on treaty process adds confusion, not insight
Friday, August 01, 2008
Re: B.C. treaty process flawed, Fraser Institute says, July 29
A better title for Mark Milke's report for the Fraser Institute on the B.C. treaty process would be Policy Suggestions for the Un-accommodation of Aboriginal Rights.
The public interest would have been better served if, before publication, he had hired a lawyer knowledgeable about aboriginal law and someone familiar with the treaty process to review his report, Incomplete, Illiberal and Expensive: A Review of 15 Years of Treaty Negotiations in British Columbia and Proposals for Reform. Milke believes the B.C. Treaty Commission is "the body responsible for negotiating treaties on behalf of British Columbia" and he confuses the B.C. Claims Task Force and the Treaty Commission, but those aren't his biggest errors.
He would have you believe some court rulings should be given more credence than others and that his opinion on their significance is right and true, while the Treaty Commission's opinions on current case law are not. We are told we can rely on some court rulings, but we shouldn't rely on court rulings Milke doesn't like. How convenient.
His suggestions for resolving the issues first nations face are naive beyond belief and not possible to achieve in the give-and-take of treaty negotiations. A first nation (which has a specific meaning for treaty purposes that is lost on Milke) does not come to the treaty table empty-handed. We agree treaty negotiations are costly and time-consuming, but they are necessary. The only alternative, court action, is far worse on both counts. Also, court cases produce winners and losers, instead of the new relationship among peoples that treaties offer.
B.C. Treaty Commission
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