STANDING COMMITTEE ON
ABORIGINAL AFFAIRS AND NORTHERN DEVELOPMENT
COMITÉ PERMANENT DES
AFFAIRES AUTOCHTONES ET DU DÉVELOPPEMENT DU GRAND NORD
[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]
Friday, November 19, 1999
The Chair (Mrs. Sue Barnes (London West, Lib.)):
Welcome, everyone. My name is Sue Barnes. I'm the
chair of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs
and Northern Development. We are starting meeting
13, and will be dealing with the order of the day,
which is Bill C-9, an act to give effect to the Nisga'a
Before we start, because we have some new members
joining us today and some local members from B.C., I
will just take a moment to introduce our panel.
Mr. Cummins is joining us in the hearings today as a local
Please go ahead and say hello.
Mr. John Cummins (Delta—South Richmond, Ref.):
Mr. Paul Forseth (New Westminster—Coquitlam—Burnaby,
Ref.): I'm Paul Forseth, and the name of my riding is
Mr. Jim Gouk (Kootenay—Boundary—Okanagan, Ref.): I'm
Jim Gouk, the member of Parliament for
Mr. Claude Bachand (Saint-Jean, BQ): My name is Claude Bachand
and I am a member of the House of Commons with the Bloc Québécois.
I represent the riding of Saint-Jean, which lies 25 miles south of
Ms. Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP): Hello,
everybody. My name is Libby Davies. I'm the member of
Parliament for Vancouver East. Welcome to Vancouver,
to all the committee members.
Mr. Gerald Keddy (South Shore, PC): Gerald Keddy.
I'm the member of Parliament for South Shore, Nova
Mr. John O'Reilly (Haliburton—Victoria—Brock,
Lib.): I'm John O'Reilly, member of Parliament for
Haliburton—Victoria—Brock in central Ontario.
Mr. John Finlay (Oxford, Lib.): I'm John Finlay,
member of Parliament for Oxford riding in southwestern
Ontario. I'm vice-chair of this committee.
Mrs. Nancy Karetak-Lindell (Nunavut, Lib.): My
name is Nancy Karetak-Lindell. I'm the member of
Parliament for Nunavut, the newest territory in Canada,
in the eastern Arctic.
Mr. David Iftody (Provencher, Lib.): Good morning.
My name is David Iftody, member of Parliament for
Provencher in Manitoba. I'm also the parliamentary
secretary to the Minister of Northern Affairs and
The Chair: Okay. Now we have our witnesses, and
I'd like to welcome all of you. We have a large panel
today, but we have until 12 noon. I know you have
important things to tell us. I'm going to welcome Ms.
Roslyn Kunin, Mr. Mike Harcourt, Mr. John Richards, Mr.
Robin Richardson, Mr. Rod Dobell, and Mr. Jim Fulton.
We are asking you to do your presentations within 10
to 15 minutes maximum. That will hopefully then leave
the panel a couple of rounds of five-minute
questionings. We will try to make this questioning as
dynamic as possible to gather as much information as
possible. The five-minute rounds, just to assist you in
our work, include both the question and the answer. I
will not cut you off mid-sentence; I'll let you finish
your thought, but I won't let you start a new paragraph
per se. It will be up to the next person whether they
wish to pursue that line of questioning.
I will try to be fair in all of this. Occasionally
somebody might get a few seconds or even a minute or
two more than someone else, but it's to try to finish
their thought, not to be unequal. So I think we all
As a commencing point, from the C.D. Howe Institute, I
would invite Mr. John Richards, adjunct scholar, to
start us off for the day.
Mr. John Richards (Adjunct Scholar, C.D. Howe Institute): I
could begin in French, but seeing as we are in Vancouver, I will
continue in English.
Mr. Bachand, I'd like to welcome you to our city, despite the
rain that is falling today.
Ladies, gentlemen, members of the committee and
anybody else who has come here to this meeting, let me
first make a very brief personal introduction.
In my irresponsible youth in Saskatchewan I was a
member of the Saskatchewan legislature and a politician
for the New Democrats. Having been roundly beaten at
the next election, I had to earn an honourable living.
I'm now a middle-aged academic teaching at Simon Fraser
University. I also work fairly extensively for the
C.D. Howe Institute, which I have often described as
corporate Canada at prayer, inasmuch as its offices are
one-half of the Anglican Diocese in downtown Toronto.
I take up the social conscience of the institute,
inasmuch as I have edited a large amount of social
policy material for the institute.
What I have delivered for the committee this
I understand copies are presently being run off to
be distributed—are excerpts of material dealing with
aboriginal issues, some of which we have published at
Before I get to it, let me make a couple of opening
First, aboriginal poverty, family distress, and
the general alienation of aboriginal people from the
mainstream of Canadian society is by far the most
serious single social problem facing the country.
This is particularly a problem in western Canada,
because aboriginal people live west of Toronto in
disproportionate numbers. In my home province of
Saskatchewan and in Manitoba, they comprise, depending
on how one defines aboriginal, one in eight of the
population. Even in British Columbia here, where their
numbers are smaller, about 6% of the population is
Having said that, I'm going to proceed to what is the
most controversial aspect of what I want to say. I
think there are two broad dimensions of public policy
as it deals with aboriginal people. One is the extent
to which, given the profound cultural differences
between aboriginal and mainstream industrial culture,
we should accommodate cultural separateness. The
second dimension is the extent to which we should
economically make special provisions for aboriginal
The two dimensions, then, are culture on the one hand
and economic incentives on the other.
With regard to the cultural dimension, I consider
myself a moderate. That means I don't agree with
anybody in this province, which is a highly polarized
jurisdiction. Certainly I am not someone who believes
all Canadians are unambiguously unhyphenated Canadians
and that there should be equal individual rights
applied to all.
Wearing another hat, j'ai pas mal écrit sur la Loi
101. I have written a great deal on the need within
Quebec for there to be linguistic protection for French
as the lingua franca within that province. That
inevitably entails restrictions on the use of English.
I think Bill 101 is a very reasonable compromise that
is, from my point of view, part of the constitutional
foundation of the country.
To use another parallel, if it is the case for
francophone Quebeckers that they deserve and should
have legislation that allows, in a fundamentally
constitutional manner, their provincial government to
undertake legislation that is different from
legislation with respect to language elsewhere in the
country, then it applies all the more so to
aboriginals. The differences culturally between
francophone Quebeckers and anglophones in the rest of
the country are much smaller than the differences
between many aboriginals and many other Canadians.
Having said that, I think the treaty goes too far. It
is the first flowering of the agenda of the Royal
Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. It is an exceedingly
complex document. It has many provisions, the ultimate
nature of which I think it's impossible at this point
to determine. It is a document that I do not think
will, a generation hence, be seen as the way forward.
Let me now move to the economic dimension. I say all
of this fully conscious of being a middle-class,
prosperous, white Canadian. The economic dimension has
been gravely underestimated, I think, in the public
debate about aboriginals in the last generation.
One of the documents you will see when you come to the
package I have arranged for the committee is material
reproduced from a publication of the institute several
years ago, which I edited. The material, entitled
“Market Solutions for Native Poverty”, is an
exhaustive study of the problems of urban aboriginal
One of the descriptive tables at the beginning of the
study notes the extent to which aboriginals are
themselves migrating from rural to urban, from reserve
Admittedly, there are some examples of urban reserves.
I'm currently reviewing a book on some urban reserve
experiments in Saskatchewan. By and large, however, I
think we're going to see the next generation of
aboriginals increasingly continue to migrate from
reserves to cities.
To have expended the amount of energy we Canadians
collectively have done—via the Nisga'a treaty, via the
royal commission, and via the agreement in the
Yukon—on the undeniably real problems of isolated
rural reserves is to do a grave injustice to the larger
number of aboriginal people who are making the
migration from the reserves to the cities.
Whatever the possibility in some instances to create
reasonable terms of employment for aboriginals on
reserve—for example, aboriginal fishing—I think the
final conclusion has to be that, as for Ukrainian
immigrants in rural Saskatchewan in the first quarter
of this century, if they are to have a good life in
this country they must leave the farm and go to the
It was hard for Ukrainians to do that. There was
prejudice against them in the prairies in the 1920s.
There is prejudice against aboriginals in the 1990s in
the cities. But the future for the majority of
aboriginals is going to be urban employment.
We are not doing nearly enough in Winnipeg, Regina,
Saskatoon, Calgary, Edmonton, or Vancouver to make this
transition from reserve to urban life successful. The
thrust, the strategy, behind the royal commission and
behind the Nisga'a treaty is not to emphasize what are
the problems of transition from an aboriginal rural
culture to an industrial urban one. The entire thrust
of the royal commission is to emphasize the
rehabilitation, the revitalization, which is something
everybody of good faith wants, of rural reserves.
I conclude with the image of an aboriginal American
scholar I greatly respect, Gary Sandefur, who
teaches at the University of Wisconsin. He comes
originally from Oklahoma. He has made the analogy, and
made it publicly, that ideally aboriginal reserves
should be, for aboriginal people as they make this very
painful transition, equivalent to the role played by
the Catholic Church in Ireland when the Irish made an
equally painful transition over the last two centuries
from rural life in Ireland to urban life in England and
America and the cities of Ireland itself.
There are many more people of Irish extraction in
England and in America than there are in Ireland
itself. The Catholic Church played an important role
as a repository of culture, as solace, as a way of
maintaining continuity while people made this
transition. My ancestors, the English, visited much
discrimination, admittedly, on the Irish as they made
So that is the appropriate image. It is the image of
a repository of culture, and very important. An
analogy might also be drawn to the role the Catholic
Church played in the first half of the 20th century,
when Quebeckers made an analogous transition.
Ultimately, the transition will be made by the great
majority of aboriginal people. All Canadians,
aboriginal and non-aboriginal, are beholden to think
very hard, much harder than we have done, about what
can be done to make that successful.
The Chair: Thank you.
Mr. Harcourt, please.
Mr. Mike Harcourt (Individual Presentation): Thank
you, Chairperson Barnes.
I'm delighted to be here, as a political warrior
happily retired after 24 years in the gladiatorial pit
of B.C. politics, with a very simple purpose—that is,
to urge the ratification and the bringing into law,
before the end of the year, of the Nisga'a treaty.
This is probably the most
discussed, dissected, and examined piece of legislation
this province has ever seen, with hundreds of public
meetings, treaty advisory committees, regional advisory
committees, a provincial committee to review it, the
legislature, and this parliamentary committee. It has
had a lot of scrutiny, and the time has come to act. I
am here to urge this committee to make that
recommendation as quickly as possible and to see it
carried out, then to move on with the implementation of
this first of many treaties.
Treaties to me are simply a way to bring about a
modern relationship between the aboriginal and
non-aboriginal people in British Columbia. And I would
argue across this country that the old treaties and the
issue of self-government are issues the rest of Canada
is going to have to face up to very shortly, and that
the approach we're taking in British Columbia to deal
with the question of land claims and
self-government—comprehensively, at the same time—is
important. Whether you call it a treaty or an
agreement, the essence is we need to change—as John
Richards said—the terrible squalor most
aboriginal people live in, and the relationship between
aboriginal and non-aboriginal people. I believe the
Nisga'a treaty is a good start on that modern process.
I've had an interest for over 30 years, from being a
young law student who worked with Tom Berger and
some of the people who put the Calder case
together, through to being a member of the city council
and dealing with the urban aboriginal issues John
Richards has talked about, to finally being mayor and
deciding to get involved in provincial politics,
basically because of this issue, to see a resolution of
the Nisga'a's patient, martyred attempts to assert that
their rights had to be dealt with, and to visit the
Nisga'a territory as the just recently elected leader
of the New Democratic Party, after a fierce leadership
battle of one person.
One of my first visits was to the
Nass Valley to visit the Nisga'a and to make a
commitment with Larry Guno, a Nisga'a who was our
MLA at the time, and Dan Miller, the present
premier, that we would get on with that task and get on
with some of the practical things that I thought
needed to take place, such as building a bridge from
Canyon City, instead of the swing bridge that
people had to go across to get to their village,
building a road through to Greenville, and
settling a treaty.
We have done two of the three, or will have shortly.
Hopefully the third will be the signing of this
treaty and the ratification of it.
I won't get into it today, but I think there's a real
need for this committee to examine the present
bogged-down treaty process in British Columbia. We
need to kick-start it, streamline it, and get on with
integrating interim measures so that we can carry out
the kinds of practical projects that John and others
here will talk about, and this new relationship between
the aboriginal and non-aboriginal people in British
Columbia. Whether you call them treaties with the
summit, or agreements with the Union of B.C. Indian
Chiefs, whatever approach we take, I urge you to
look also at the issue of proceeding rapidly with
comprehensive agreements throughout the rest of the
I want to very briefly deal with some of the issues
that have been raised: the question of what I see as
the dual benefit of this treaty and other treaties, the
question of cost, the issue of special rights, and calls
for a referendum. There are others, but those are the
three I'd like to touch on.
First of all, in terms of benefits, I think the
benefit for the aboriginal people is very clear. For
the aboriginal citizens in British Columbia who are
presently living a life without a lot of hope on
welfare reserves, which we created through the Indian
Act, this has to change to self-sufficient,
self-governing communities where aboriginal people,
particularly young people, have a life of hope, with
education, employment, decent health services, and
For those who are non-aboriginal, we need to have this
healthier relationship between aboriginal and
non-aboriginal people, with mutual respect, and live
with each other in a much more civil society than we
have now. And we need to bring certainty, the kind of
stability the investment and entrepreneurial
communities need to be able to participate in British
We've had many studies. Price Waterhouse did a study
eight or ten years ago that showed that at least $1
billion a year—and I think that's far too
conservative—is flowing around British Columbia and
not being invested here because of the uncertainty that
not having treaties and comprehensive agreements
between aboriginal and non-aboriginal people has
Major mining companies and others will not invest in
this province if they see there's going to be a
confrontation, a lawsuit. I think that is
already harming the B.C. economy. If you're a British
Columbian, I think you have to be aware of the fact
that British Columbia has had only one on-load, to use
government language, from Ottawa to British Columbia.
That was the CPR. The rest has been off-loaded,
whether it's equalization, or the taxes we send and the
taxes we receive. We've sent far more benefits from
British Columbia to the rest of Canada than vice versa.
This settlement and the treaty process itself will
be only the second on-load that British Columbia will
receive, probably for another century. It will
probably result in around $500 million a year of
Canadian taxpayers' money coming into this province,
going into Williams Lake, Quesnel, Terrace, and the
communities around this province. Let's take, for
example, $8 billion, for the sake of argument, to be
the gross cost—and I would say the net benefits are
far more than that. This $8 billion that over the next
20 to 30 years would flow from the treaties would
benefit British Columbians tremendously—both
aboriginal and non-aboriginal. It would create probably
$30 billion worth of economic activity. Those dollars
would be circulating through the various communities of
British Columbia and benefiting both aboriginal and
I think we have to look not just at the human
benefits, but the economic benefits, particularly to
British Columbia, of having the treaty settlements taking
We have a study that was done recently by Grant Thornton
management consultants, a financial and economic
analysis of treaty settlements in British Columbia,
which outlines at least $4 billion worth of direct
benefits of the treaty process to the B.C. economy.
The second major issue is that of special rights, that
we're creating special rights for aboriginal people. I
have two arguments for that. Number one, we have
already treated the aboriginal people in this country
in a special way. We took away their language and
their religion. We prohibited the Nisga'a from hiring
lawyers to assert their rights in our system of law.
We didn't allow them to vote. We put them on reserves.
More particularly, this issue isn't about
creating special rights. It's a very simple old
principle of expropriation without compensation,
particularly in British Columbia. We seized the
aboriginal lands for our tremendous benefit. B.C. is a
very fortunate place. But we didn't compensate the
aboriginal people, as we did in other parts of the
country, with inadequate treaties and with the reserve
system, which has not worked.
I see this as an issue of compensation so that
aboriginal people can move to a more hopeful life of
self-sufficiency and self-government, within the laws
of Canada, within the Constitution of Canada. We're
not creating a Swiss cheese federation of different
countries. That's nonsense. That's not what is being
talked about at all. Certainly it's not what I agreed
to as premier.
Lastly, there is the issue of the referendum. I
personally think it's a silly suggestion, particularly
with the Nisga'a, because that wasn't what we agreed to
with the Nisga'a. We agreed to take it before our
parliaments; they would have a vote before the Nisga'a
people. We didn't agree to a referendum in B.C. or
Secondly, who would vote in a referendum? Eighty
percent of the settlement is coming from the Canadian
taxpayer. Should every Canadian vote? Should it be
just British Columbians? Should it be just the people
who live in the particular area we're talking about?
Should we do it for every treaty? We're going to have
50 or 70 treaty agreements negotiated.
The mind boggles, first of all, at the impracticality
of it, and secondly, at the complexity of carrying that
out for every treaty. That's why we have legislatures
to debate and to decide these issues. That's why we
have elections. I ran in 1991 saying we were going to
settle with the aboriginal people through negotiation,
not through litigation, not through confrontation.
I would urge you not to consider the referendum
approach. I don't think it's appropriate and I don't
think it would work.
Lastly, concluding the ten minutes, I would urge you,
Madam Chair, and the committee to recommend Monday that
we proceed with the ratification of the Nisga'a treaty
in the House of Commons, then quickly through the
Senate, in order to have a Christmas present for the
Nisga'a and for those of us in British Columbia who
think this is a just way for us to proceed.
The Chair: Thank you.
Miss Roslyn Kunin, chief economist of the Laurier
Institution, please go ahead.
Ms. Roslyn Kunin (Chief Economist, Laurier Institute): I'd
like to begin by welcoming you to the beautiful city of Vancouver,
where it never rains.
First of all, I want to thank you for inviting an
economist to come and speak. You all know what you get
when you cross an economist with the Godfather: an
offer you can't understand. I 'm going to work very hard
to compensate for that and to be as clear as possible.
Secondly, you all know that when you get two
economists you get three opinions, so I am going to
disagree with my colleague, John Richards, who is also
an economist. I'm going to present an alternative
point of view to his, namely, I am going to speak in
favour of ratifying the Nisga'a treaty as quickly as
What gives me any authority at all to speak on the
Nisga'a treaty is that the Laurier Institution
undertook a very major study, completed about two years
ago, looking at the economic impact of treaty
settlements in British Columbia. We tried very hard to
get objective research. It was funded partly by the
federal government, but partly by first nations people,
the corporate sector, individuals and so on, so that
gave us a degree of autonomy to pursue this particular
research and try to shed some light on a question on
which there has been an awful lot of heat and not very
The results of our study came out in this book,
Prospering Together, which I trust the people
around this table have seen. If not, we would be happy
to make it available to you. The results are that
treaty settlement in British Columbia in general and
the Nisga'a treaty in particular, on which we've put a
fair amount of weight, because at the time we were
preparing this study it was the closest thing to an
actual treaty—the agreement in principle was in
place—that we had to work with in British Columbia... the
results are very positive for first nations people.
Even though I admit to being one of those nasty
economists, we did try to take a broad view. We did
look at the social impact as well. We realized that
issues like health and education have an economic
impact as well as a human impact and need to be taken
into account, so we did look at those issues.
Again—possibly giving up my licence as a dismal
economist—we found some optimistic results.
One of the most optimistic results—this is information I
found in the course of this study—came when we looked
at the issue of education. The prospects of treaty
settlement in this province had arisen, the
negotiations had started, and the vision of treaty
settlement was now a reality throughout first nations
communities and particularly the Nisga'a community,
after well over a hundred years of trying to achieve such
One of the things we noticed as a result of putting
this treaty negotiation process in place came in the
area of education. One of the reasons why many first
nations people are doing and have done so badly
relative to other Canadians, on reserves and even in
the cities, has been lack of education. The
high school dropout rate, the lack of formation of
human capital—to use my favourite expression—has
really deterred and limited first nations people, as it
would deter any Canadian that did not at least finish
high school and get more education.
Once the treaty process actually got rolling, we began
to see that the high-school dropout rate declined among
the kids in the Nisga'a area. It declined because, for
the first time, the prospect of a treaty meant to these
young people that they had more choices than they had
in the past.
The choices they had in the past were to give up on
their home, their family, their culture, their
neighbourhoods, and their towns, and come to the cities
and possibly disappear as a first nations person in the
larger Canadian society but have a much better chance
to prosper economically, or to stay on the reserve with
their family, with the people they knew, and with the
culture they were brought up in, but have pretty close
to zero economic prospects.
Suddenly, the treaty settlement possibility gave them
another alternative. It gave them the vision that
maybe there could be some economic development, some
resources, some opportunities, through self-government,
through the funding, through the whole process of the
treaty settlement, for them to have a chance to retain
their culture, to stay with their family and friends,
and to also have some opportunity for economic
So the high school dropout rate declined, and that was
one of the more positive signs we saw as we undertook
On the economic side, I won't take too much time
repeating what Mike Harcourt has already said. Our
studies confirm that the economy of British Columbia,
particularly the non-metro economy of British Columbia,
which has been doing—if I may speak frankly—not at
all well, has been hurt even further by the uncertainty
that has been generated by the lack of treaty
If you don't know what the rules are, if you don't
know how to have access to land, industries—not just
mining, not just forestry, but tourism, high-tech
industries, and all other industries—suddenly become
much more uncertain and much less likely to invest in
British Columbia, particularly in the areas where our
resource industries have been suffering from cyclical
downturns, from the Asian flu, and from the other
things that have hit us.
Again, it is a minimum of $1 billion worth of
investment in this province that is not taking place.
Companies can live with almost any set of rules if they
know what the rules are, but in this situation with
lack of treaty settlement, there are no rules. Nobody
knows what the rules are. Reasonable people then
choose not to play the game.
On the issue of self-government, we need the treaty to
encourage all Canadians, including first nations, to
work within the legal framework that the people around
this table are maintaining and enhancing.
The treaty very clearly specifies that the laws of
general application in Canada, including the Criminal
Code and human rights laws, do apply. All the laws of
general application in Canada will apply. Under the
terms of an established treaty, these laws, again, will
be recognized, will be respected.
In first nations settlements across the country where
there are no treaty settlements and no rules, where
there is no agreement on who's on first, what happens
with respect to access to resources, what happens with
respect to banking, what happens with respect to tax
laws, and what happens with respect to other
issues—you all read the newspapers, I don't have to be
more specific on the examples—we have visions of much
more anarchic situations, where people say we
don't know which rules apply to us, so we'll ignore
these rules or make up our own.
The Nisga'a leaders have said to me, to my face, and
in many other forums that they are not concerned about
leaving Canada. What they want to do with this treaty,
very urgently, is to join Canada. They have given up a
generation of their people and their lifetimes to come
this far. This treaty is a pact whereby the first
nations can join Canada and participate fully, as
equals, in Canadian society.
Then we have to look at the consequences of not
ratifying this treaty. That is a real possibility.
Otherwise, we wouldn't be sitting here talking about
it. What are the consequences of not ratifying this
The economic consequences, I will say unequivocally as
an economist, are large and negative. They are hard to
predict with any degree of exactitude, but they will be
large and they will be negative.
The other major and final point I want to make
concerns the process of getting to the treaty. Again,
Mr. Harcourt has described this at great length. We as
Canadians, as British Columbians, and as first nations
people have sat down and negotiated in good faith to
try to solve this long-standing problem and to reach a
negotiated agreement that everyone can live with.
Anyone around this table who has ever been involved in
negotiations knows negotiations are very hard. Anyone
who has ever been involved in negotiations knows this
is the real world, and you are never going to get a
perfect settlement. Whenever people get up from the
negotiating table, there always will be signs of
Take the simple case of labour-management
negotiations. The workers' side is going to walk away
and say, gee, we probably could have gotten a little
bit more. The corporate side is going to walk away and
say, gee, we probably gave away a little bit too much.
My view is that if there is about equal grousing on
both sides of the table, you probably have as fair and
as balanced a settlement as we can ever hope to achieve
in this real, human world in which we must live and act.
I think the Nisga'a treaty is such a settlement. It
is not perfect. I have heard non-first-nations
Canadians complain bitterly that it is too generous to
first nations. I have heard Nisga'a people complain
long and loud that they didn't get enough. Since the
noise was about equal on both sides, I think this is a
treaty all sides can live with. It can give us the
certainty and can give us the opportunity to prosper
I'm going to close with a cliché from old western
movies, if you will forgive me: “White man speak with
forked tongue.” We negotiated, in good faith, in a
process to reach an agreement that would be then
ratified by the people at the table—namely, Canada and
British Columbia and the first nations people—and put
into place. If we renege on that process now, the old
cliché will come true.
We don't know exactly how every implication of the
Nisga'a treaty will work out. I see large possible
benefits. I see some uncertainties. I see some costs.
I think the benefits will largely outweigh the costs. I
think the treaty itself provides mechanisms to deal
with the outstanding uncertainties with respect to
fishing and so on.
I'm going to stop with a quotation I heard from first
nations people at a conference in this province not
that long ago: “Ask not where the path may lead. Go
where there is no path and leave a trail.”
The Chair: Thank you very much.
A voice: On a point of order, Madam Chair—
The Chair: The audience does not talk and the
audience does not speak. Order, please.
Please sit down in the audience. Thank you.
We will suspend for a minute to let this person
finish trying to do what he's going to do.
The Chair: We will start again.
I'm glad you're shaking hands there, because you've
just delayed the parliamentary process.
I encourage the courtesy of the witnesses before this
parliamentary committee. This is not a town hall
meeting but as if you're sitting in the House of
Commons. It's a House of Commons parliamentary
hearing, and most Canadians understand and respect
Parliament and its operation.
I will try to maintain order. I will not exclude
anybody, because I want them here. The public has a
right to be here. The media has a right to be here.
But the witnesses before this committee have a right to
be heard and to give us their diverse opinions. As
Canadians, we hear diverse opinions. I would call upon
all people in this room and around this table to show
the respect that every person here deserves.
We will continue with Mr. Robin Richardson, president
of R.M. Richardson and Associates.
Mr. Robin M. Richardson (President, R.M. Richardson
and Associates): I agree with your remarks exactly,
Madam Chair, having been a former member of Parliament
Thank you for coming to British Columbia and for inviting
me to be part of this witness panel.
I trust the clerk has handed out a copy of a study I
did earlier this year as well as a little addendum
package with maps and a couple of tables and a copy of
my prepared remarks. I'm not going to read them
completely, because I think I'd be somewhat
constrained, but I'll refer to parts of them. I would
ask the committee that these handout materials be
published in Hansard, if that's possible.
The Chair: Actually, just for clarification for
anybody who has any material here today, it will be
appended to the record. That will be done for all of
Mr. Robin Richardson: Thank you very much.
My main conclusion as a professional economist is that
if the Nisga'a treaty is properly costed, which is
basically what I did in my study, there should be
substantial financial compensation owing to B.C.
taxpayers from the Government of Canada, mainly for
valuable crown lands being transferred to the Nisga'a
As a British Columbian who wants to live in peace with
his neighbours of all racial origins, my main hope is
that compensation to B.C. taxpayers will help lessen
tensions and bring cooperation from most British
Columbians for the Indian land claims process.
The alternative to cooperation will be conflict, I
fear, as British Columbia becomes increasingly
balkanized and carved up into 60 or more Indian
nation-states, each with sovereignty association status
within British Columbia and Canada and each with its
own race-based government with control over vast
proportions of what were once crown lands enjoyed by
all British Columbians.
I'm going to skip a section on the government cost
estimates. You may want to look at it, because it's a
dismal story about how our governments, federal and
provincial, have cost-estimated this Nisga'a treaty.
There are also comments from the Auditor General and
the Minister of Finance. The Auditor General
consistently in the last few years has criticized the
department, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, for not
costing land and other things in these treaties. Also,
just last month, as I'm sure you are aware, members,
the Minister of Finance reported that showing in the
government's financial statements from now on will be
$200 billion as contingent liabilities for aboriginal
land claims. I trust that will put some pressure on
proper costing of all land claims no matter where they
be, British Columbia or elsewhere.
I undertook a study on behalf of a client back in
1996, when the first agreement in principle for the
Nisga'a treaty came out, and then I updated it earlier
this year. This study is still, as far as I know, the
only independent cost estimate of the Nisga'a treaty.
There have been many studies of the Nisga'a treaty, but
nothing has been published that looks at the lands,
which is the major missing link.
One of the tables you have before you shows the
Nisga'a land is worth $406.4 million, and I used a very
conservative cost estimation model, one, incidentally,
that follows closely what the Minister of Aboriginal
Affairs provincially has—they retained a consulting
firm a couple of years ago to do this—but did not use.
They ignored their consultants.
As part of this $406.4 million, there's $268.2 million
for forest resources, $106.9 million for fisheries
resources, $17.5 million for water resources, and $13.8
million for mineral resources. A methodology for each
of those is found in my study.
To demonstrate how conservative these figures are—and
I've been criticized by government particularly that
they're too high—it should be noted that the B.C.
government recently settled with MacMillan Bloedel for
almost $100 million, giving up 32,000 hectares worth of
timber rights on Vancouver Island. Forestry experts
say the logging potential there is very similar to the
Nisga'a Nass Valley. So if you apply the same
compensation formula to the Nisga'a settlement lands,
the value of the forest lands would be, using this
approach, $622.5 million instead of my estimate of
The long and the short is that when adding up the lands
and all of the other costs, I came up with a figure of
$1.3 billion as the cost for the Nisga'a treaty,
compared with the government's estimate of about $485
million. That's everything—land, cash, the whole ball
The lands themselves are huge. There's a map over
here, the big one that you have in your package. I
hired a professional map-making company in Victoria to
do that to scale. The Nisga'a treaty lands represent
84% of Vancouver Island—not the settlement lands, but
the settlement lands plus the wildlife reserve, plus
the remaining parts of the Nass area, which is the
watershed. This is for 2,000 residents, 40% of whom
are below the age of majority.
There are many other costs—I won't go into them in
detail here—that the government didn't even look at.
The forest renewal program is one. One Nisga'a
spokesman said once they've settled, they're still
going to go after provincial funds for forest renewal,
to as much as $200 million. They may not get that, but
that's their beginning negotiating position.
Then of course it's open-ended as far as the
government costs that will still continue. The federal
government, the Ministry of Indian and Northern
Affairs, will still be pouring money in, as will the
provincial government increasingly. It's an increasing
trend in the last six or seven years.
Simply put, the total cost of the Nisga'a treaty in
cash, land, and potential resource wealth could be $1.3
billion or more, not the $500 million now admitted to
by the B.C. government. If you extrapolate that over
the 150,000 aboriginal citizens to perhaps 60 or more
treaties, the total cost for treaties could easily
reach $35 billion or more and cover about one half of
the land mass of British Columbia.
The issue of compensation for the B.C. taxpayer is in
my study. It's been picked up in a few places, but not
sufficiently, so I bring it to your attention. I used
their own cost-sharing formula. Under the cost-sharing
formula signed between the British Columbia and
Canadian governments, and utilizing the numbers I have,
I'd say the federal government should be paying the
provincial government about $652 million, which
represents B.C.'s 25% of the total cost, but right now
it's 75% if you cost the lands properly. If you use a
population formula, it could rise to as much as $805
Those are substantial amounts of money, which I've
argued in my study is something the provincial
government here should be going after to help spread
the burden of the cost of this treaty more correctly
across all taxpayers from coast to coast to coast.
The wise use of compensation payments from Ottawa by
the provincial government could build a constituency of
support for Indian land claims and turn a potentially
negative situation into a positive one. The provincial
government could spend it on anything they want. They
could reduce the debt, cut taxes, spend it on
health—the list goes on and on.
I will conclude by saying again that the proper
costing of the Nisga'a treaty, as recommended by the
Auditor General of Canada and hopefully as required by
the federal Ministry of Finance, should lead to a
substantial financial compensation owing to B.C.
taxpayers from the Government of Canada, mainly for
valuable crown land that's been transferred to the
Nisga'a First Nation and subsequently to more than 60
Indian treaties that remain. This should lead to
cooperation instead of conflict from most British
Columbians—not all, but most—for the Indian land
British Columbia may avoid the worst of Balkan state
history only by proper and prompt compensation
from Ottawa for giving up its crown lands to the
emerging first nation states. Compensation together
with the wise deployment of these funds by the B.C.
government for all present and future generations of
British Columbians is the way to proceed along this
difficult and hazardous road ahead.
Thank you very much.
Voices: Hear, hear!
The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Richardson.
Now we'll proceed to a professor of public policy, Mr.
Rod Dobell from the University of Victoria.
Please commence when you're ready.
Professor Rod Dobell (University of Victoria):
Thank you very much, Madam Chair. It's a real
privilege for me be here.
Unlike the rest of the panel, I've never been a
politician, never been elected. The closest I've been
to politics was the opportunity to serve as research
director with parliamentary task forces: the Breau
committee on fiscal federalism and the Frith
committee on pension reform. But that was a long time
I do want to express my thanks to be here. Unlike
many of the editorials say, despite much of the
commentary about the lack of democracy, this is our
democratic system in process, at work. It seems to me
that's the system we should be following as we carry
through to the end of the debate on the Nisga'a treaty.
I should say just a quick word about where I'm coming
from, as they say. I did a PhD at MIT in mathematical
economics and taught optimization theory at Harvard and
the University of Toronto. Then, in a kind of
misguided fashion, I went to Ottawa to teach people how
to make decisions and actually finished up spending six
years teaching decision-making in Ottawa. I discovered
something more was needed; my education was badly
lacking. I finished up working subsequently at OECD
and in non-government organizations.
Now back, no longer a mathematical economist, I
sometimes call myself an ecological-socio-political
economist, reflecting the fact that for the last ten
years I've been working on social learning, the
management of atmospheric risks, economic instruments
in forestry, and global change in marine resources.
With that background, it seems to me that much of the
discussion of this treaty, particularly the discussion
of costs, has failed to come to grips with the real
issues, which have to do with management of resources
and social programs. So I'd just like to make a couple
of comments on the way in which a policy analysis, or
an appraisal of this public policy, ought to be
The first point is that one has to be very clear about
where we are starting in our analysis.
We do start from a
parliamentary democracy, a Constitution that entrenches
group and collective rights, equal recognition of
peoples as well as equal recognition of people.
Most particularly, it's important to recognize that we
start with a contested initial distribution of titles,
initial distribution of rights. We don't have clear
title in this world from which the negotiations
started. The Supreme Court of Canada has emphasized
several times that we have to recognize the possible
existence of aboriginal title where it exists. In the
words of the Supreme Court, “aboriginal title is a
right to the land itself”.
There is a burden, and the extent of that burden on
crown title has to be resolved. The Nisga'a
negotiation was one step in attempting to come to
clarity on the existing balance of rights. So when we
try to do an appraisal of the treaty, we can't start
with the assumption that we non-Nisga'a have 100% of title
and we're going to give up a certain amount and we will
make an estimate of that cost. So it's important to be
clear from where we're starting.
The second point is it's important to be clear on
whose behalf we're doing the analysis. It seems to me
that this group does the analysis on behalf of all
Canadians, or all residents of Canada, not Canadians
excluding the Nisga'a and not the non-Nisga'a taxpayer.
If we're doing the analysis on behalf of all Canadians,
then a transfer of title from the Nisga'a to
non-Nisga'a or a transfer of title from non-Nisga'a to
Nisga'a is a transfer within the family and within the
group of all Canadians. It is not a cost to that group
in total; it is a redistribution within.
That initial distribution has to be established. What
we come out of the Nisga'a negotiations with is an
agreed understanding of the existing balance of rights.
In respect of fish resources, for example, an
allocation is agreed that says 26% of quota allocation
to one group, 74% to the other.
Those are not costs to the group as a whole. A
fundamental proposition in economics is a cost is what
you give up. The cost of something is what you have to
give up to get it. When the title to access rights to
forest operations or quota for fishing is recognized or
even assigned to Nisga'a, the forest does not disappear
and the fish still swim. The economic impact of that
transfer flows if the new owners manage the resource
differently from the old owners. If they manage the
resource better, then we see an economic benefit. If
they manage the resource less well, we see an economic
The cost flows from the management and the incentives
that lead to good management. It does not flow from
the transfer, the paper title. The proposition
can be extended with respect to the financing of
If we look at the economic impact of this negotiated
settlement, it seems to me we can argue that we're now
going to get resource management closer to the
communities that are on the scene. We are going to
get something like community-based management of
I just finished a panel that's worked for three years
on global change in marine resources. Its major
message was you have to get the rights and title clear.
You have to get the incentives bearing on the
individual manager and the individual fisherman in line
with the overall social goals of conservation and
stewardship. You have to get the incentives right.
The proposition in lots of resource
management circles these days is the incentives are
more likely to flow in a fruitful direction if there's
community involvement in the management. That's one
thing the treaty brings forward.
The program delivery, with a fiscal financing
arrangement, enables us to have program delivery closer
to home. The evidence is overwhelming that a sense of
control, a sense of agency, a sense of involvement,
means a healthier community. There's no question,
suicide rates go down, health goes up, participation
increases, social capital is greater, social cohesion
is improved. The treaty provides for a block funding
arrangement, much like territorial financing
arrangements. It's a reordering of the financial
arrangements, it is not a cost.
What do we have in the end out of the agreement? We
have a better climate for investment decisions, more
particularly a better climate for continuing
negotiations, adaptive management, the resolution of
the disputes that inevitably will arise. As you
interpret these rules of the game in a changing world,
you have to have a climate in which it is possible to
sit down and work out how the rules of all the people
in the community will change as the world changes.
So my basic point is that there are underlying
economic realities here that go beyond the cost
estimates. I told Robin earlier that I would argue
that his cost estimates are inflated. But what's more
important is that they're not relevant to the
assessment of the treaty. If we look at Canadians,
including Nisga'a, there's no case for compensation
payments to the crown in right of B.C., because the
settlement has clarified the existing balance of
rights. If a transfer has occurred, it's internal.
I argued that the MacMillan Bloedel compensation package was
silly anyway, but that was for recovery of clear title.
We in British Columbia had already assigned the title
to MacBlo, and we had to buy it back. I think we paid an
inflated price, but that's a different argument. If
the tenure rights were transferred from Interfor
to MacBlo, we don't call that a cost. If they were to
transfer from MacBlo to Weyerhauser, we still don't
call it a cost and take the treasury to account and
call it a taxpayer burden. In fact, we think of it as
job creation. So I don't know why we should call these
There are lots of other questions I would go into if
I had my usual 55 minutes, but let me conclude by
saying that it's crucial to get the accounting stance
right. From whose perspective are we doing the work?
It's crucial to recognize that we're not assessing this
negotiated settlement in response to the Supreme
Court's injunctions to get the titles clear as an
employment program. The underlying issue here is an
issue of justice and fairness, and a social foundation
for future development.
The Nisga'a Final Agreement isn't an income support
program, and it shouldn't be assessed that way. It's not a
mobility program. It's about redistribution and
understanding of the initial balances of rights. It
needs to be done anyway, whether John Richards is right
or wrong about the possibility of having regional
centres of economic activitiy in the face of a
globalized economy, whether it's possible to have
capitalism without convergence to one uniform model.
Whether he's right on that or not, those are programs
to be assessed down the road.
The Nisga'a Final Agreement has to be ratified anyway.
Understanding on the initial
balance and the existing balance of right has to be
reached, and then we look at the issues of economic
development. But we don't assess this agreement as if
we were trying to run an income support program in
regions of B.C. The injection of cash into B.C. will
be great for business, but that's not the point of this
Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
The Chair: Thank you very much.
We'll move to our final presenter this morning, from
the David Suzuki Foundation, Mr. Jim Fulton, the
executive director. Start when you'd like.
Mr. Jim Fulton (Executive Director, David Suzuki
Foundation): Thank you, Madam Chair.
I apologize for the fact that this document is only in
One thing the Nisga'as would always say at the
opening of a meeting like this is
simgigat sigidim hanak' k'ubawilksihlkw.
They probably said that to you when they made their
One of the things I find sadly
missing from the public debate here in British Columbia
is experience-based information. An awful lot of the
journalistic and political cold rain that's falling on
the treaty and on the process and on the Nisga'a
people comes from those who have simply never been to
Kincolith, have never been to Gitlakdamix, have
never been to Aiyansh, have never been in the
Nass. I don't think very many British Columbians
yet understand that this is a very mature civilization.
For thousands of years they have practised
ayookw, which is just as complex in its
elements as the Parliament of Canada or the Congress of
the United States. This is a very mature civilization.
I think those in politics and those in journalism who
continue to rain on this do so either because they're
fools or worse.
I had the honour to represent the Nisga'a and the
residents of the great northern riding of Skeena for four
terms, from 1979 until 1993. Over the past 20 years
I've had the distinct honour of visiting the Nisga'a
communities in the Nass many times, often for long
periods of time. I considered my office to be the
democratic home for the Nisga'a representation when
they travelled to Ottawa. I have publicly supported
the treaty negotiations between Canada, British
Columbia, and the Nisga'a, and publicly support the final
I want to begin with a reflection on the immense
contribution the Nisga'a have made to the economic
and political life of our country. Price Waterhouse
were commissioned to study the value of the resources
removed from Nisga'a territory just in recent decades,
and the amount was found to be in excess of $2 billion.
No compensation was paid to the Nisga'a. The treaty
offers $190 million over 15 years. If one wants to use
some economic figures that we've heard earlier, that's
less than 10% of what was taken. Nisga'a territory in
the Nass region exceeds 25,000 square kilometres, and
the treaty before us provides title fee simple to
only 8% of the land.
Many false statements have been made about the Nisga'a
and about the treaty. Certain individuals continue to
make these false statements despite being factually
corrected. Some media outlets continue to publish
wilfully ignorant and factually incorrect material. And
perhaps as bad, there is a nearly
complete exclusion of facts that
support the treaty in terms of its benefit to all
British Columbians and all Canadians.
Let me give a couple of examples. The proclamation of
the treaty will give Ottawa and Victoria, as well as
others, certainty in relation to over 23,000 square
kilometres of territory presently encumbered by Nisga'a
title and rights. Any members who haven't read the
Delgamuukw decision from December 1997 should.
What is that worth? How many billions?
Using Mr. Richardson's formula, the Nisga'a are giving
Canada and British Columbia lands worth more than $10
billion because that's what the law says and that's
what Canada's Constitution, section 35, means.
Only cost analysis has been the focus. What about the
benefits of reduced fishing effort and catch on weak
runs or in years of poor returns? What about the
benefit of taxes paid to the crown by Nisga'a taxpayers
and business? What about the fact that Nisga'a
revenues will be going to build local business and
services? What about the benefit of hundreds of
millions from Ottawa to the British Columbian
northwest, which will move into communities like Terrace,
Prince Rupert, Kitimat, or Smithers?
A closer look at the benefits to all Canadians of
stopping the systematic aggression and moving to
certainty, economic development, and peaceful
co-existence is rarely done, and it must be done.
In my years working with the Nisga'a people, time and
again I was saddened by the negative social, economic, and
political consequences of the Indian Act and of the
negative effects of reserves.
Let me spend a moment on this. This treaty breaks the
yoke created in 1867 by the Constitution's “lands
reserved for Indians”, or what are known in the Indian Act as
reserves, which are owned by Canada for the use and
benefit of Indian bands.
The economic impediment of this arrangement meant that
Nisga'a entrepreneurs could not borrow against land or
use land as collateral. Nisga'a communities were
deprived of an essential economic tool. Canada,
without compensation, removed fishing rights by
allocating licences to traditional Nass River fisheries
to others. Nisga'a fisheries on the Nass have been
awarded the highest federal conservation awards for
their selective harvesting and protection of weak
resources on Nisga'a lands have been granted to others,
and the ombudsman notes, in a recent report on tree farm
licence number one, massive overcuts, waste, and destruction.
In the book Falldown, by Dr. Patricia
Marchak, released earlier this year, the Nass was
identified as overcut by over 100%. This means that in
the chief forester's own calculations, long-term
harvest levels, known as LTHL, and the annual allowable
cut are off by over 100%. There is not enough mature
or second-growth forest to allow a continuation of
present levels of cut. The destruction of the Nass
Valley forests by the province has long been a source
of sadness to the Nisga'a and other knowledgeable
British Columbians. The loss of wildlife and a host of
harvestable plants, along with the documented
destruction of fish habitat, has been a national
Through all of that, after 112 years of
representations to the crown, the Nisga'a Nation has
offered to sign an honourable settlement to the land
question. The Nisga'a economy survived Parliament's
disgraceful 1927 act prohibiting the
raising of money by any Indian band to prosecute any
claim, particularly respecting land. As I'm sure
all of you know, that legislation was specifically
targeted at the Nisga'a.
The Nisga'a survived the destruction of the potlatch
and traditional feasting. This was comparable to the
banning of democratic institutions.
The Nisga'a survived brutal attempts at assimilation,
including wide-scale sexual abuse and the tearing apart of
families, language, and culture with residential
schools. Only a handful of Nisga'a ever got jobs from
the forest companies, from road construction, or from
government. The Nisga'a have, however, maintained a
close relation with the land and the living resources.
Denied resource extraction rights, denied funding
leverage, denied jobs, denied funding, encouraged to
fight for Canada in two world wars and then denied the
right to vote when they returned, until the 1960s—these
Canada has been less than honourable. British
Columbia has been less than honourable until now. Some
politicians and some media observers make false
arguments about the treaty. It is wilful ignorance of
the terrible record of Canada, British Columbia, and
the resource companies toward this proud first nation.
Surely the Nisga'a may and will make some mistakes as
they build a new economy, but I truly believe they will
lead on conservation, protecting biodiversity,
protecting salmon habitat, protecting the forests, and
building a truly sustainable economy for generations to
come. I have spent 20 years working with the Nisga'a
to build access to the human and economic rights that
most Canadians take for granted.
The Nisga'a have a proven track record and a
competence in running their own education and health
systems, small business, fisheries, and forestry. They
are masters of many crafts and carry forward an ancient
and intact culture.
With the return of some land, some resources, and a
level playing field of governance, the Nisga'a treaty
will prove to be a wise investment in people, place,
and economics, in British Columbia and in Canada. And
as members of the House, I can assure you that you can
be proud the day you rise to vote for it.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Fulton.
Thank you to all the panellists for your opening
Before we go to the first round of questioning, I want
to announce that we are joined by Val Meredith, who is
the member from—let me get this right—South
Surrey—White Rock—Langley, in British Columbia.
Is that right?
Ms. Val Meredith (South Surrey—White
Rock—Langley, Ref.): It is.
The Chair: She will
be substituting for another member of the Reform Party
for today's hearings.
We are commencing the first
round of questions with Mr. Gouk, from the Reform Party.
Please go ahead for five minutes.
Mr. Jim Gouk: Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thank you to all the witnesses for taking the time to come
here today. Regardless of which side of this you happen
to be on, it's good that you're participating.
Given the short amount of time I have, after more than
an hour of presentations, I'd like to hit on a couple
of points, mainly from Mr. Richards and Mr. Harcourt,
but I have a couple of other observations as well.
I'd like to start an observation with Mr.
Richards and sort of jump the gun on the rest of the
Mr. Richards, you are probably
going to be discredited because your
study was done at the request of a Reform member of
Parliament, and of course that automatically makes you
discredited. I would point out that Ms. Kunin was
hired by the Liberals and the aboriginal groups, of
course, so there is at least a quid pro quo for when
they do start to attack you, sir.
Mr. Richards, you mentioned that there is going to be
quite a migration from the reserves to the cities, so I
would question how then the Nisga'a treaty is going to
benefit anyone, given that there are no real portable
benefits per se when you take this amount of land and
money and you put it into the hands of the aboriginal
leadership, not the individual. When they leave the
reserve, it's questionable what benefit they're taking
with them. In fact, given that two-thirds of the
Nisga'a live off the reserve, I've always questioned
what benefits they get out of this at all.
You, together with Mr. Harcourt, touched on another
matter. Yours specifically referred to social
conditions, the problem of social conditions.
Mr. Harcourt, you mentioned that there's a need to
change the terrible squalor aboriginal people live
in. Is money the answer? We have the Stoney, 3,300
people, some of them living in the squalor you
mentioned, and yet they have a $50-million-a-year
There's a variety of examples around, also here in
British Columbia. There was a front-page headline this
week in one of the Vancouver papers showing that
although one of the bands here is extremely well off,
some people are living in rusty trailers and some are
on waiting lists for housing for years and still not
even being allowed to get into housing on the reserve.
On the Nisga'a themselves and just the federal and
provincial money currently provided to the Nisga'a,
using the figure of 2,000—which I think is slightly
generous—men, women, and children on the reserve, there
is over $15,000 per capita going in there now, yet they
have these problems that we're trying to address with
this treaty. So I would say that's not really the
Mr. Harcourt, you in particular, and Mr. Fulton,
mentioned the question of certainty, that we have to
have certainty, and you also said in order to avoid
confrontations and lawsuits.
We heard from the Gitanyow, and the Gitanyow have said
that 80% of the land the Nisga'a are getting under
the government that you formerly led is Gitanyow land,
and it's a very serious violation of trespass. They
said they will defend their land, and they invoked such
scenes as Bosnia, Chechnya, East Timor, among
others. Their comment was “We will defend our land.
When you violate our land by trespass you'll get two
warnings. The third time is much, much more serious.”
It's either lawsuits or confrontation and
violence, so I don't see how we're getting certainty.
We're in fact causing perhaps an even worse situation
than we had, because we didn't follow what the treaty
process says should be an end to these overlaps prior
to signing any final agreement.
Finally, Mr. Fulton mentioned the magical 8% figure,
how the aboriginal people of the Nisga'a are only
getting 8% of their claim. But there are three sets of
maps. The first map, taken in part from the Calder
decision, the Gitanyow say they have no dispute
with. It was Nisga'a land; it was recognized that it
was Nisga'a land. But then, in two successive maps,
the boundaries expanded, and that's when they started
claiming land that the Gitanyow say is clearly theirs,
not only through oral history going back 10,000 years,
but recorded history going back 130 years. So now we
have this incredible confrontation.
The land the Nisga'a are getting, just to put it
in perspective, is not 8% of the questionable land;
it's 25% of their original claim. So yes, that's a
down-switch as well, but it's a significant difference
from that. So when I hear people on one side of the
The Chair: You have 15 seconds left of your time.
I will allow short answers.
Mr. Jim Gouk: When I hear people saying there
are false figures being thrown out by those opposed to
this, it works on both sides, sir.
The Chair: I'm going to allow a short
answer to one of the questions. Would you like to
choose who you'd like to have answer?
Mr. Jim Gouk: It's principally to Mr. Harcourt and
Mr. Richards that I address myself, whichever one wants
Mr. John Richards: Can both of us respond briefly?
The Chair: Yes, very briefly, please.
Mr. Mike Harcourt: I have three brief points. One, I
don't automatically discredit what comes from the
Reform Party. John Reynolds is an old friend, and I've
been working with Val Meredith on a number of issues,
so don't take my remarks personally. I happen to
believe in the treaty process in this treaty.
In terms of squalor and money being the answer, money
isn't the answer. We need time, goodwill, and
acceptance that mistakes are going to be made as we
move from 100% failure—what we have now—of welfare
reserves that were created under the Indian Act. I
think it's going take a generation to implement the
treaties, and at least two generations to deal with the
dysfunctionality we have created through the last one
hundred years. So I don't think money is the answer.
I think hope is part of the answer. I think
capacity-building and more resources are part of the
answer. That's the reason why I wouldn't agree to an
Alaska-type settlement of handing over a cheque for
$100 billion. That's why we've said the
capacity-building and the resources would be over a 10
to 20-year period. So I agree with you that money is
not the answer to some of the examples you've given.
Lastly is the issue of certainty and the Gitanyow
claim. There is a process to deal with that. I'm not
going to judge whether the Gitanyow claim is valid or
not, but there is a recognition that it has to be
sorted out, and the treaty is subject to that. I think
everybody is aware of that.
It is a far better process to go through this approach
than to go through an Oka or a Gustafsen Lake. The
roadblock confrontation approach doesn't work. The
courts have consistently said aboriginal rights exist,
they haven't been extinguished, so negotiate. I think
that's what we're attempting to do here today.
The Chair: Mr. Richardson for a short answer, please.
Mr. John Richards: Hopefully you now have the
material I distributed. If you look at the urban
population of selected ethnic groups, as
recently as 1951, fewer than 7% of aboriginals lived in
an urban context. In 1991 it was 42%, and by the 1996
census it will undoubtedly be greater yet.
A colleague, Alan Cairns, who is about to publish
a major volume discussing the royal commission, made
the crucial point I want to make. I
Although the Commissioners did not and would not
phrase it this way, one of their crucial decisions
was whether to stress the economic and other
benefits of urban existence for aboriginal peoples,
or whether to stress the contributions of
self-governing land-based communities to cultural
survival. The Commissioners' data clearly
indicates various positive features of the urban
experience compared to the on-reserve experience.
The projected growth of jobs is much more favourable in
urban locations. Incomes are significantly higher,
educational attainment is superior, labour
participation rates are higher and unemployment
rates are lower, the likelihood of holding a
full-time job is higher, the population of social
assistance recipients is much lower. Indian people
in urban settings have the highest life expectancy
among aboriginal peoples. Various indicators of
social breakdown—family violence, suicide, sexual
abuse, rape, alcohol and drug abuse—are markedly
higher for the on-reserve Indian population over
the non-reserve population. On the other hand,
cultural retention is weaker for the latter,
participation in traditional activities diminishes, and
language loss is greater [...]
There is a painful trade-off that aboriginals
and non-aboriginals must face up to.
The Chair: Thank you.
I'll remind all the
colleagues around the table that it is your rules
I am trying to enforce. You asked for five-minute
rounds by your consensus. We're at nearly nine minutes
and forty seconds on the first round. That will not
continue. I will enforce the rules. If people
choose to use their five minutes to ask ten questions
and not allow room for answers, there will be no
answesr. I'm giving warning now because I'm going to
enforce the rules you have asked me to enforce.
We'll move on to the second questioner in the first
round. By my clock, we should be able to have at least
three rounds around this table and get a lot of
questions and answers in.
Mr. Bachand, please begin.
Mr. Claude Bachand: Madam Chair, this is one of the most
interesting groups of witnesses that we're meeting with this
morning. Unfortunately, because of the rules of procedure, the time
available to us doesn't allow us to question everyone. So I will
spend more time with Mr. Richards than with Mr. Mike Harcourt.
With respect to the others, I would like it if we could
exchange business cards because there will certainly be some
follow-up to your presentations, all of which I found very
I want to tell you that you have
an excellent French-speaking language. I'm looking
forward to meeting you at the break, so we can have a
little French chat.
Mr. John Richards: Thanks to the fact that I'm married to a
Mr. Claude Bachand: I'd like to come back to a fact that you
mentioned on a number of occasions, the fact that Aboriginals are
leaving the reserves. I had the opportunity and the honour to twice
visit the Nisga'a territory and I visited a number of native
In my opinion, in the current context, the solution is not
simply staying on the reserves. I've seen what goes on there. I
went to the Pikangikum reserve, in northern Ontario, and I saw
appalling things there, Mr. Richards. I saw 17 people living in a
small four-room house. I saw people with nothing to do but wait for
their social assistance cheque at the end of the month because
there were absolutely no jobs on these reserves. And I saw young
people with no future.
On the Pikangikum reserve, it is customary to bury the dead
next to the family home. It was a real shock for me when I saw four
adolescents, aged 12 to 17 years, who had committed suicide during
the year, and were buried next to their parents' house. If I were
a young native person on the Pikangikum reserve, I would pack my
bags and run as fast as I could to Toronto or somewhere else.
That is part of real life on the reserves. So, the solution
doesn't lie there. The solution is now to give these people a
certain amount of self-government so that they can decide their own
future. We will provide them with enough land so that they can
provide for their future and we will respect their culture. If they
have their own government, they will succeed in doing so.
In my opinion, that is the solution. I will ask you to comment
quickly on that later.
And with respect to you, Mr. Harcourt, I would say that
British Columbians aren't the only ones who believe that Ottawa
gives back less than it receives. That is an important premise of
my party, the Bloc Québécois. I know you are retired, maybe you
could run, during the next federal election, under the Bloc
Québécois banner in British Columbia. You would make an excellent
Voices: Ah, ah!
Mr. Claude Bachand: Incidentally, you talked about the
economic impact. You said, and I found this important, that Ottawa
was finally granting $500 million to British Columbia to provide
I'd like you to explain this a little bit more because you
didn't mention that the Agreement that we have here contains a
whole section which stipulates that these people will begin to pay
taxes to the two levels of government: in 8 years, taxes, and in 12
years, income tax. It seems to me that this should have a major
impact and that this will be a big change for the Nisga'as. They
must have agreed to certain sacrifices to get to this point.
I'd like to continue speaking, but unfortunately, or rather
fortunately, I'd like to give you the time to respond to these
The Chair: Mr. Harcourt.
Mr. Mike Harcourt: Mr. Bachand, I have said for a
long time that British Columbia and Quebec share a
great deal in our sense of alienation sometimes from
Ottawa. We have a great deal in common, which is why
we want to make sure Quebec stays part of Canada. It's
an ally of British Columbia.
On the question of the $500 million, I agree with Rod
Dobell. I think the talk about costs is a shell game,
to a large extent. The $500 million from the Canadian
taxpayers will be invested back into the Nisga'a
territory and communities surrounding the Nisga'a
territory—Terrace, Kitimat, and other centres. It will
be of tremendous benefit.
None of that money will go
to Swiss bank accounts. It's going to stay in British
Columbia and be invested in the British Columbia
It will be used to buy building supplies and cars, and
invest in joint ventures with non-aboriginal business
people. The real issue is that it will be there as a
resource to help build capacity away from the reserves
you talked about, to self-governing, self-sufficient
The issue you talked about was choice. The aboriginal
people will have the choice to decide to go to the big
cities and the bright lights, or stay in rural-based
communities in a very rich province, in terms of
natural resources and a whole series of other benefits.
The tax provision was the making point of the treaty.
I talked to Joe Gosnell the day before he was going to
meet. I told him I could not get the people of British
Columbia to accept the treaty without a provision that
the tax exemption for their new self-government would
be lifted, after a certain period of time for
capacity-building. That was the bottom line for me.
We were going to, at a certain point, phase in sales
tax and income tax. As the Nisga'a became employed and
self-sufficient, they would be paying a fair share of
taxes for the basic services of health, education,
social services, and the other services that are
provided. So you're right in pointing that provision
The Chair: Thank you. The time is up.
Madam Davies, go ahead.
Ms. Libby Davies: Thank you very much,
Chairperson. I'll try to keep my question brief.
I'd like to thank the witnesses for being here today,
because I think it is important to have this debate and
have questions answered. I really appreciate some of
the very wise words that are being made today.
In particular, the one issue I want to focus on is the
question that was raised of resource management. I
think Mr. Dobell, Mr. Harcourt, Mr. Fulton, and others
really raised this issue in a way that I don't think
has been examined before. Mr. Dobell commented
that this treaty was a manifestation of a just
redistribution within the group, within the Canadian
family. I think that's a very important comment.
One of the things that has really disturbed me, and I
think a lot of people, is the divisiveness of this
debate over the treaty—that it's a “them and us”
kind of situation. In fact, even today we hear from
Reform members who use phases about what they are
getting—“What are we giving up?”—and even in how we
analyse this: “Are we giving up something? Is
another group we're not a part of getting something?”
I think your comments, that this is really a treaty
that deals with resource management, social issues,
social justice, and restoring the rights of a group
that has been very oppressed by white society, are very
pertinent to this debate.
I'd like to focus on that for a minute and ask Mr.
Dobell, Mr. Fulton, and Mr. Harcourt to discuss the
question of stewardship and resource management. When
we talk about benefits, what does this treaty provide
to all of us, in terms of an accountability and a
democratic practice of resource management, that maybe
is different from what we've seen over the last
You've talked about how we have desecrated the
forests and how our society has plundered these natural
resources. So I'm very interested to know your
opinions on how the resource management laid
out in this treaty is actually something we will
all benefit from. Perhaps you would care to comment on
The Chair: Who would you like to go first?
Ms. Libby Davies: Mr. Dobell and maybe Mr. Fulton.
The Chair: Mr. Dobell.
Prof. Rod Dobell: You've really made the point. We
are talking about stewardship. The arrangements
represented in the Nisga'a Final Agreement provide for
joint management over substantial areas of forest. They
provide for devolution of responsibility for
environmental management within a general framework,
so-called “meet or beat” standards. They require
that where the Nisga'a take responsibility for
environmental management, they are free to set their
own standards, provided they meet or beat the
provincial standards for environmental management. They
can establish superior standards, where they wish to do
so, for their own purposes.
Joint management is provided in the treaty in wildlife
areas for resource management more generally, with
provisions for access by all the public.
The institutional arrangements that are built into the
final agreement for purposes of resource management
reflect what I would take to be the emerging and maybe
prevailing view as to the best way in which
institutional arrangements can reconcile a need for
some overall coordination, some standard that reflects
the global character of a lot of ecosystems. At the
same time, you have local discretion in interpreting
the application of those standards in particular
The Chair: There's still time, Mr. Fulton.
Mr. Jim Fulton: Thank you, Madam Chair. Like Mr.
Dobell, I think Ms. Davies has described
it rather well.
To give you just a little bit on our take on the
treaty and the language in it, we think there is a
great move with the language towards conservation-based
sustainable development. Those who know a bit of the
history of the Nisga'a in relation to their cultural
attitudes toward protection of the land and
conservation of biodiversity need look no further than
the Amax files, which are available in Ottawa.
Almost alone, they stood up for all British Columbians
to protect the fisheries and the marine environment
from the placement of more than 100 million metric tons
contaminated waste into the salmon grounds of British
Similarly, it was the Nisga'a who triggered the
ombudsman's office to undertake the first resource
management analysis in B.C., in the analysis of tree
farm licence number one, which is the large area lying
just to the south of the settlement areas that are
described in the treaty. Although the management
practices have changed, as I've said in my
presentation, the cut on the lands surrounding the
territories that are being ratified is in excess of
100%. It's a scandal of immense proportions, and the
committee itself might want to look into what's been
happening during this period leading up to
ratification on very important lands that are not
being managed for long-term conservation biodiversity
in the area surrounding Nisga'a land.
The Chair: Thank you very much.
Mr. Keddy, it's your turn.
Mr. Gerald Keddy: Thank you, Madam Chair. I'd
also like to welcome the guests here.
I'd just like to clarify things a bit more on the
comment made by Mr. Fulton on the sustainable cut or
non-sustainable cut on Nisga'a lands. The cut is
250,000 cubic metres of wood going out of Nisga'a lands
every year. The Nisga'a logging agreement allows for
115,000 cubic metres of sustainable allowable cut.
There's a tremendous difference there.
There were a couple of comments made here, so I'd like
to explain something to the audience and to the
witnesses. As a member of Parliament, it's difficult
when you have six witnesses, when you have five minutes
to ask questions, and there's a lot of debate here that
should occur and some debate between witnesses that
should occur. It's difficult for all of us. And I'm
losing time as I'm saying this, so—
The Chair: The clock's ticking.
Mr. Gerald Keddy: First of all, there was a
statement made by Mr. John Richards
about urban ghettos and the process of first nations
moving from reserves into the cities, and about the
fact that the process is bound to continue. I would
agree with that statement, because it is bound to
continue. However, my argument against what you had
said—and I'd like Mr. Rod Dobell to speak further on
this—is the fact that there is the whole process of
empowerment, the whole process of allowing economic
opportunity on reserves, the whole process of allowing
first nations to benefit from the treaty-signing
process. Where we look at it, we realize the suicide
rate goes down, general health is improved, certainly
education is improved, we have more high school
graduates, we have more university graduates, and this
allows other things to happen.
I would compare it, but I'd make a different
comparison from the Irish comparison. I would compare
it to general Canadian society and the move from rural
to urban. I think that's the comparison that needs to
be made. Most of us can look at our own families,
generations of farmers or loggers in eastern Canada or
western Canada or wherever we happen to be. We can
look back through our own family history to generations
ago, when there were no university graduates, when
there were no high school graduates. And that's within
You can look at the levels of education. As
opportunities arose, people moved off the farm. They
moved into urban settings, and many of them did very
well in urban settings because they were educated. But
when that occurred two or three generations ago, they
went to the urban areas—and especially women, because
there were no opportunities in the country except for
marriage. So they went in, became educated and became
trained, and they had opportunities to advance
I'd like a little more explanation of that from Mr.
Prof. Rod Dobell: Thank you.
On the second question first, the stewardship
conservation question, there is an important argument
that says stewardship flows from a situation in which a
group does have a sense of attachment, a sense of place
that puts them with the resource, so there is an
argument that we will see better stewardship with
community-based management. The institutional
arrangements set out in the final agreement certainly
push in that direction.
I think John Richards has introduced a
very important point here. We have to look at the
issue of cultural survival and the question of economic
prospects as distinct questions. I would argue it's
somewhat of an open question yet, about whether it's
inevitable that the trend away from a decentralized
economy has to continue altogether in a capitalist
democracy in a global economy. It's debatable. The
question is not resolved as to whether you can have
capitalism without complete convergence of the economy
toward a single corporate model. I guess I'm of the
group that is hopeful that you can have cultural
survival without having complete assimilation of all
economic activity into the single globalized
I'd be more hopeful than perhaps he is about the kinds
of changes that are envisioned in the final agreement.
If one looks forward to see the changes in the reserve
setting that ought to flow from those provisions, then
one could see a viable regional economy not just for
Nisga'a, but for people in coastal communities all
across B.C. and people in remote communities all across
It seems to me that this is where the Nisga'a Final
Agreement lines up very closely with the hopes
many of us have in Canada that we can carve out a way
of life separate from the United States, separate from
the U.S. economic model, and that within Canada groups
can carve out separate ways of life in accord with
their own cultural traditions and without giving up their
claim to a place in the mainstream economy.
The Chair: Mr. O'Reilly.
Mr. John O'Reilly: Thank you very much, Madam
Chair, and thank you very much to the witnesses for
attending. I have about 30 minutes' worth of
questions, Madam Chair, but I'll try to put them down
into these thought-provoking presentations that have
been made to us. I'll start off with some comments
perhaps on Mr. Richards' presentation.
I think there are 3.5 million people in southern
Ireland, with 4.5 million of Irish descent in Canada,
and 41 million in the United States. Obviously, by my
name, I had to comment on that.
You know, during the famine and the loss of people's
ability to provide a livelihood for their
family—particularly in Cavan County, where my family
came from—the English established soup kitchens. You
had to denounce your religion to feed your family. I
don't know how that parallels with the Nisga'a
agreement. it was a different scenario in a different
time, but that's what brought a lot of Irish people to
Madam Kunin, I recognize the important
factor of continuing education beyond the age of
everyone. I have said in Parliament that the three
happiest years of my life were in grade eight.
Voices: Oh, oh!
Mr. John O'Reilly: Of course that's not true, but
we'll put it in the record anyway to add some humour.
I'm going to ask you all what you would
recommend to improve the process of treaty
negotiations. We're not here to change the
treaty. We're here to change the process, to look at
the process, to examine the process, and to deal with
By the way, J. Ambrose O'Brien was the
founder of the Montreal Canadiens, so the Irish weren't
In 1994 I attended a Fraser Institute
presentation at the Château Laurier—it was my
first introduction to them—and they told us that everything
was done: it was five minutes
to twelve, the clock was beating, we
were $42 billion a year in deficit, and it would
mushroom under Paul Martin's plans. But now we have
back-to-back years of surplus for the first time in
fifty years. It's tough to explain when I look at
numbers, because I know numbers are manipulated
depending on who owns the calculator. I don't mean
that as a slam, but you can do anything with numbers.
Particularly, the cost of management redistribution not
being a give-away is a very interesting concept that we
haven't heard before.
Mr. Fulton, I have a humble observation on the press
in British Columbia. In the short time I was here,
based on the comments that have been quoted in the
press to me, I realized that the press does not report
the news; they try to create it. I have 13 newspapers
in my riding, and of over 650 press releases that I've
issued since 1993, one newspaper hasn't printed any of
them. So I understand the process here, too.
I think the B.C. press is a very sick organization.
They only promote bad news. I would go back to the
Governor General's report in 1994, in which he asked
the press to give good news a chance. I guess I would
have to ask the same of the B.C. press in this treaty
process. They do not seem to recognize that there is
good news and that they should give it a chance. They
use the press to whip up the Luddites, I suppose.
Anyway, if they have time, I'm going to ask each one
to recommend to us what we should recommend as an
improvement to the treaty process.
Mr. Richards wants to start off, because he's going to
contend those Irish numbers.
Mr. John Richards: No, the Irish
are better mathematicians than either Rod or I. Both
of us have given up on that in our old age.
I'll make a very quick defence of the British Columbia
press, since they can't make their own defence.
Editorially, the Vancouver Sun
has actually come out in favour of
this treaty, so do not think there is uniformity
among the press.
I think the single most important point I want to
make to the committee is that you make recommendations,
to the extent that you can, that while there are good
aspects to this treaty—and maybe overall you want to
endorse it, given the sincerity, the time, and the
efforts the Nisga'a put into it—the core issue is
accommodating the rural-to-urban migration, and that
the agenda that has been set in place by the royal
commission, by the courts, and by the Assembly of First
Nations leadership is seriously distorting the
public debate. There must be much more discussion of
how to make that transition proceed successfully.
No one has denied the basic economic and social
statistics. To wit, aboriginal people do better when
they leave the reserve and they come to the city.
While I agree with Mr. Keddy that there is some
potential that we can enhance and rehabilitate, it is
folly to think we can accommodate a decent
lifestyle for aboriginals on the reserves any more than
for Saskatchewan farmers or Irish people. There has to
be a continuation of the migration process, and we
would make it work.
Mr. John O'Reilly: Mr. Dobell.
The Chair: I'm sorry, Mr. O'Reilly.
Mr. Cummins, go ahead.
Mr. John Cummins: Thank you, Madam Chair. I'd
just like to compliment you for your handling of the
meeting this morning. I think things are going well.
That being said, I'd like to allow Mr. O'Reilly the
opportunity to bypass the press here, and I'd invite
him to a public meeting in my riding at any time. He
can go directly to the people to explain his point of
view on this issue.
That being said, I want to thank the witnesses for
appearing this morning. I think they've all made a
significant contribution to the debate.
But I can't let this matter go by. I must observe
that three of them are NDP and one is an economist,
funded at least in part by the federal government and
native groups. That group is simply not reflective of
the people who come to my office with concerns about
this particular treaty and other treaty issues. I just
have to make that comment.
Mr. Richardson, I'd like to address my remark and this
first question to you. Professor Dobell has suggested
that the transfer of resources in the treaty is done
without cost. You'll recall, I'm sure, that 25% of
Nass fish will be going to the Nisga'a and that
there are four other bands with claims to those fish.
Mr. Dobell might like to tell the fishermen, including
natives who are going to lose access to those fish,
that there is no cost to them. I'll leave that
manipulation to him.
He also suggested that your numbers are inflated. I
wonder if you'd care to correct his misconception.
Mr. Robin Richardson: As I pointed out in my
remarks, if anything they're too low, based on the
recent payments to MacMillan Bloedel. So I disagree
The model I developed back in 1996 is based on
stumpage. It's stumpage times the size of the lands,
and not market value. That is where I've been
criticized by some professional foresters. I'm not a
forester; I'm an economist. But as I was doing the
first study and then the second study this year, I
consulted extensively with foresters, both in the
government and outside of the government. A few of
them felt that I was far too low, that I should have
used market value, which would put it at least at a $3
I'm quite happy being somewhere between the
government's obviously too low $500 million and these
others. I think both are extreme. So if anything, I'm
too low, and I've conceded that for the first time
today, in these remarks to you.
Incidentally, I just want to add to Mr. O'Reilly that
I believe you could recommend and should recommend to
the ministry—I'd recommend that you recommend—that
the federal government in all future Indian land claims
hire an independent, outside consultant. It doesn't
have to be me, but I'm there.
Mr. John Cummins: Mr. Richardson, your point is
well taken, and it's certainly the point that was made
by the Auditor General in his recent study, as you
Mr. Robin Richardson: Yes, that's right.
Mr. John Cummins: I'd like now to direct a
question to former premier Harcourt.
Mr. Harcourt, the matter was before the courts when
you were premier. You removed the legal firm that was
successful at the Supreme Court level and replaced it
with one that was sympathetic to the native
presentation. At that point, who was speaking for
The other point about that trial that I'd like to
raise and I'd like you to comment on is that you
acknowledged that when the matter went to appeal,
aboriginal title existed. You didn't define it. Given
the recent decisions of the court in Marshall, the one
this week, for example, do you think the matter needed a
full and open debate before you made that concession?
So there are two questions here: who was speaking for
Canadians, and were you not somewhat presumptuous in
allowing that aboriginal title existed without defining
The Chair: Mr. Harcourt.
Mr. Mike Harcourt: Thank you, Madam Chair.
First of all, I ran in the 1991 election on the basis
that aboriginal title existed and had not been
Mr. John Cummins: Did you get a majority of the
votes, Mr. Harcourt?
Mr. Mike Harcourt: I got about the same majority
that you did, Mr. Cummins, about 65% of the vote in my
Mr. John Cummins: No, I mean provincially.
The Chair: The microphones will be turned on by
the chair. You're now over time, so I will give you
Mr. Mike Harcourt: Thirty seconds. Good.
The position that aboriginal title existed was proven
to be true in the Supreme Court of Canada in
Delgamuukw. It hasn't been extinguished, and we have to
negotiate the definition of that.
The definition has been around since the 1830s, Mr.
Cummins. The definition of aboriginal title isn't a
fee simple. It is a use and occupation for the
sustenance of the aboriginal community within their
traditional territory. It is not new. And that is the
basis on which we amended the pleadings, which the
previous governments had ignored for over a hundred
years. They were found to be wrong. Our position was
found to be right by the Supreme Court of Canada.
Mr. John Cummins: But it was found wrong by the
Supreme Court of B.C.
The Chair: Mr. Cummins, we're starting our second
Mr. Finlay, go ahead, please.
Mr. John Finlay: Thank you, Madam Chair.
I want to sincerely thank the panel. I think this has
been the most lively presentation we've had, and I
suggest it has been the presentation from the people
who have lived part of this and who are involved in it
and have been for some years. I mean Mr. Fulton and
Mr. Harcourt and so on.
Mr. Gouk commented that Mr. Richardson's report
wouldn't be of interest to us because it was paid for
by his colleague, Mr. Cummins. Mr. Cummins and I have
been colleagues on a number of committees and matters,
and when I saw his name at the bottom, I thought here's
a man who has put his money where his mouth is and done
some research on his own, and I'll certainly read that.
I was a little disappointed, however, when I read the
fine print at the top. It's an update of a study on
the Nisga'a agreement in principle prepared for the
B.C. Fisheries Survival Coalition. I know you
don't pick your clients; they pick you. Having heard
from the B.C. Fisheries Survival Coalition, I'm really
a little bit—
Mr. Robin Richardson: I have reserved the right to
choose my clients.
The first study I did on the Nisga'a treaty in 1996
was commissioned... I'm sorry.
The Chair: I didn't turn on your microphone. It
must have just gone on automatically. I think Mr.
Finlay was in the middle of his point.
Mr. Robin Richardson: I'm sorry, Mr. Finlay. I
thought you were finished.
Mr. John Finlay: It wasn't a comment directed at
you. It was a comment generally. I will read your
report. However, I must say that I don't agree with
your basic principle, and therefore I'm going to have
to read it for the important things you say about
various industries and so on.
I go back to something that one of the other members
of the panel said. I think maybe it was Mr. Fulton or
Mr. Dobell. I was in the House when Elijah Harper
lectured all of us on where we were with respect to
aboriginal affairs and treaties. He said to all of us,
“You just don't get it, do you? You don't get it. We
were here for 10,000 years. The land is ours. You
can't give us what is ours.” That's what we heard
from the Gitanyow and the Gitxsan, and that's
what we heard from the Nisga'a.
The Nisga'a have come forward and agreed to negotiate.
The problem with the Gitanyow and the Gitxsan is not
that they are confusing areas. I don't want to get
into the map argument, but the figures given publicly
here by the opposition were not correct. That's beside
the point. There is a little bit of land in dispute
eventually. Their problem is that they don't think
we're negotiating from the right point. They want it
admitted before they start that all the land is theirs.
Then they'll negotiate.
I think all of you have added something to my
understanding. My two questions are these.
We had a Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples.
It cost the taxpayers $6 million. It took three to
five years. I can't remember whether it was three or
five years for that report to come. Mr. Fulton will
The Parliament of Canada is littered with royal
commission reports, which no one normally does much
with. We can go back to the arts and cultures royal
commission, chaired by our first Canadian Governor
General. I was a young student at university and it
was a great thing and a lot of the students read it. I
don't know if the politicians read it; I never heard of
one who did. Nevertheless, that's a method we have of
studying some of these problems that you cannot settle
by partisan debate.
I think the report of the Royal Commission on
Aboriginal Peoples is a fine document. I'd like to
know what each of you think and whether it has helped
in these treaty negotiations. Did that report help?
It certainly helped my understanding. I just want to
know whether you think it did.
The other question I have—
The Chair: Mr. Finlay, we're never going to get
six answers to that question within the time.
Mr. John Finlay: We're not?
The Chair: Would you like to choose somebody to
answer your question so they have some time to answer
Mr. John Finlay: I think I'll ask Ms. Kunin to
answer that question. She seemed to have the most
clearly stated description of what a negotiation is and
of how it ends up.
Ms. Roslyn Kunin: I have to confess I have not
read the report of the royal commission on native
affairs. For one thing, I understand it is very large
and very time-consuming. I have not read the report.
I do want to take this opportunity to say that we did
consult very many other sources from very many
different kinds of people. The report we produced was
supported extensively by the corporate sector and by
individuals, not only by government and first nations
The Chair: Thank you very much.
The next round is for Mr. Bouchard... I mean Mr.
Bachand. Poor Mr. Bachand. Excuse me.
Mr. Claude Bachand: I'm flattered by the comparison, Madam
In politics, we have a tendency to like to know who is for
something and who is against something. After having heard you
speak this morning, I can see that you are divided into two camps.
You could say that Ms. Kunin and Messrs. Dobell, Fulton and
Harcourt are pretty much in favour of the treaty, while Messrs.
Richard and Richardson have some reservations.
So I would ask Mr. Fulton and Mr. Richardson to react to what
I have to say, in order that we might have the opportunity to
Since the beginning there have been two concepts that
opponents of this treaty have used and have developed. First of all
the importance of equality. Oftentimes we hear opponents of the
treaty saying that it's not fair and that it must be fair. The
other objection refers to the climate of uncertainty that it
creates. They say that the treaty creates enormous uncertainty and
that it is terrible.
I have my own ideas and I'm going to ask representatives from
both camps to respond to the train of thought that I developed in
order to try and solve these issues.
First of all I'm going to ask representatives from both camps
if they recognize the existence of Aboriginal peoples in Canada and
if so, do they believe that these peoples are to be granted
specific rights? With respect to the specific rights, they may be
granted either by legislators or by the courts. I'd like to add
that in the context of the court decisions, the score is 50 to 0
If we do recognize their specific rights, then we would now
have to negotiate people-to-people or nation-to-nation. The
solution would be to arrive at a partnership. I believe that the
treaty that we have here today, nation-to-nation, is a partnership
treaty where two nations have managed to agree on how to live
together on the same territory from now on.
Lastly, if this is the case, and if you followed my train of
thought and you agree with me, then there is no more uncertainty;
it is a very clear and sure situation. This treaty creates a
certainty. We have a treaty in due form, negotiated
nation-to-nation, and everyone agrees that this is what we need.
You may ask, Madam Chair, representatives from both camps to
respond to my comments.
The Chair: Would you like one... Mr. Dobell or—
Mr. Claude Bachand: I asked Mr. Fulton as well as
Mr. Richardson, who represents the other camp, to respond very
The Chair: Very well.
Mr. Fulton, go ahead.
Mr. Jim Fulton: Thank you, Madam Chair. I'll try
to be quick—
The Chair: Thank you.
Mr. Jim Fulton: —so that John has a chance to
respond as well.
I think you have followed a good and reasoned
intellectual path in getting to your conclusion. On
the matter of equality, it is used by many journalists
and many political blowhards as the issue that they
circle a lot of their false arguments around. Those
who want to go back to the period of 1980-82 and read
the debate surrounding how subsection 35(1) in
particular came to be there—the recognition and
affirmation of existing aboriginal rights—would have a
lot to learn from that debate.
Others have said here—I think Mr. Finlay and Mr.
O'Reilly both alluded to the fact—that aboriginal
people were here in Canada and controlled all of the
land mass for thousands and thousands of years.
So on the issue
of equality, this is where a lot of the
terminology is about race-based rights, race-based
fisheries. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Canada's Constitution is crystal clear: these are
rights and these are rights of people. Those who
continue to use the “race” word are doing so
disingenuously. I think many people have said it's no
longer a matter of wilful ignorance in the press in
British Columbia; it's something far worse, and it's
On the matter of uncertainty, I think it's very clear
that the Nisga'a treaty is a bright light in British
Columbia as to how we get towards certainty on those
25,000 square kilometres of land, on the 2,000 square
kilometres of land. I think it's a great day, and it
demonstrates a great deal of ingenuity on the part of
the negotiators in getting us this far.
In terms of the partnership, the language, I think,
was brought up by Dr. Dobell, and it's very important
that this committee reflect on it and broadcast it more
widely. Both Mr. O'Reilly and Mr. Finlay wondered what
this committee might do in making recommendations.
It's very important, now and in the future, that much
more consumable information—factual information—on
this issue gets out to the Canadian public.
People who are interested in misinformation and
disinformation have had a heyday in this province. The
people who have been hurt the most are the Nisga'a
people and the young aboriginal people in this
province, who have been deeply scarred and wounded.
Parliament has to step in and help in that way. The
redistribution is truly the issue within the Canadian
family politics. I thank you for your question.
The Chair: I'm going to allow you a brief time to
Mr. Robin Richardson: I'll try to keep it quick,
I'll take it in reverse order. In terms of the
uncertainty issue, there's a great deal of uncertainty
with the existing Nisga'a treaty. I know that from
industry sources—from the forest industry, from
mining, from various resource-based industries. It's
specifically because the model—or the template, as our
former premier called it—this Nisga'a treaty, is to
have settlement lands with very large “other” lands
attached to them, in particular, a wildlife area. I'm
told there's a legal opinion—I'm not a lawyer, but an
economist—that there's a great deal of uncertainty
about the management model that's going to be there,
about what will happen and whether the private
companies, non-Nisga'a companies, will have access.
This remains to be seen. We're in new territory here,
very much so.
On the rights issue, yes, I would agree, there are
rights. But again, I'm an economist, not a lawyer, and
in my understanding of it, I tend to agree more with
the position of Mel Smith, who I think spoke to
you the other day in Victoria. He is a constitutional
On nation-to-nation, I say to you, sir, being from the
province of Quebec, that the Nisga'a treaty is the
finest example, in my opinion, of a sovereignty
association model that I have seen. I studied that
proposal in your province and looked at those aspects
when I worked a few years ago for the Fraser Institute
and looked at the public debt of an independent Quebec.
I think we could see little sovereignty association
nation-states popping up all over British Columbia, as
fine examples of what you and others in your party had
proposed in Quebec. So nation-to-nation for sure.
The Chair: Ms. Karetak-Lindell, please, five
Mrs. Nancy Karetak-Lindell: Thank you.
It's been a very interesting morning. Over the six
days I've been travelling, I have heard many things.
I'm going to put myself in the shoes of the Nisga'a
people. In Prince George I was told to go back to my
reserve. Here I'm being told that I should urbanize
and not choose where I can live. I was told to take
$250,000 and sell my culture and language, and he will
have the choice whether he wants to archive it and put
it in a museum or if he wants to flush it down the
toilet. He'll have that choice.
Someone told me he wants to vote first from the
parameters of what rights I can exercise, and then I
guess I can try to find out how to fit the square peg
in the round hole. One of the only options might be to
change my square peg.
In Victoria I was
told that I was not an ordinary Canadian.
If I didn't have an identity crisis before my next
birthday, I do now. I'm not sure what my options are
any more. Which choice should I take? I would think
that I would take the Nisga'a treaty with my defined
rights and hope for the best.
We have also heard about examples of bands failing in
different parts of Canada, but that hasn't stopped any
of us from taking marriage vows when we hear about all
the divorces going on in this country and about one
spouse being taken to the cleaners. I think we all
like to hope that when we get married we will be taken
on our own integrity and on our own merits.
So I would like to ask Mr. Richardson what I am
supposed to do now. Which choice sounds like the best
choice for me? Any of the panellists can answer if
Mr. Robin Richardson: I live in Victoria. I want
to apologize. I don't know who said that to you, but
that's deplorable, and it's not my position. You're
Mrs. Nancy Karetak-Lindell: It was Mr. Mel Smith,
who is a constitutional expert, by the way.
Mr. Robin Richardson: I am surprised at him.
That's not my position, that's for sure. I'm
surprised, because I thought I knew his view. I'll
speak to him about that.
You're a Canadian citizen and you have a particular
ethnic background, like many of us do. You should
cherish that and live within the bounds of that. But
to say that you're not... You're obviously a Canadian
citizen. You're a member of Parliament too. That
should prove it.
The Chair: You have more time if you'd like it.
Mrs. Nancy Karetak-Lindell: Well, if anyone else
wants to say exactly what they feel is the right
choice, the “most right” choice, I guess, it's open
to any panellist to say what they want.
Ms. Roslyn Kunin: On that matter, tying it into
the Nisga'a treaty, which we are discussing today, one
of the things I like about the treaty, one of the
things I like about the establishment of Nunavut, on
which I congratulate the new member from Nunavut, is
that it gives native peoples choice. They no longer
are obliged to stay in a limited environment on reserve
and remain in impoverished conditions. They no longer
are obliged to leave their families and culture and go
to the city to try to make their way.
I disagree, respectfully, with Mr. Richards that
urbanization will be the only way in the 21st century
to achieve a degree of economic viability. As we move
into the 21st century with its new techniques and its
new communications, I think the choice will be
available to the Nisga'a and to all native and all
non-native people in Canada to have a lot more
geographic freedom and to exercise their options as
citizens and as prosperous Canadians as well.
A voice: Hear, hear!
The Chair: Thank you.
Ms. Libby Davies: I'd actually like to come back
to a comment that Mr. Richards made at the beginning of
his presentation, which a number of people have picked
up on, that is, that somehow we should be opposed to
the treaty because we're on the wrong track and that
the issue is migration to the urban environment and
that's where we should be focusing our attention. A
number of people have commented on this.
I guess the way I look at it is that to me it would be
like saying, well, we abandon smaller communities, that
there is migration generally, but somehow we should
just let smaller or rural communities go and focus our
efforts in the urban environment.
To me, it's not an either/or
situation. It's a matter of understanding who we are
as Canadians in this very vast country and that we
have to work on many different fronts.
I represent Vancouver East, and it includes the
poorest urban community in Canada. I probably have
the highest percentage of urban aboriginal people in
East Vancouver, particularly in the downtown
east side, where there is a huge amount of suffering and
pain as a result of generations of oppression by colonization.
So I'm certainly not immune to and in fact I'm a very
strong advocate for the idea that the federal
government and provincial governments have a
responsibility. Certainly the federal government has
a fiduciary responsibility to urban aboriginal people.
This idea of playing one against the other
I just don't buy into.
I actually want to ask Mr. Harcourt,
as someone who chose the track of negotiation
and not litigation and conflict, some questions.
The treaty deals with a
very specific geographic area. What can we learn from
that to actually now move
forward to deal with other issues, say in the urban
environment? What can we learn from that to make
sure that aboriginal people generally can realize their
full human rights and entitlements under the
Constitution and under their aboriginal title? How
would you speak to that in terms of the urban
environment, from what we've learned from the process
that you initiated and were very much a part of
The Chair: Mr. Harcourt.
Mr. Mike Harcourt: I don't think
it's a choice of reserve and hopelessness and urban
living and prosperity and opportunity.
We're trying to get rid of the reserves and change
them into self-governing, self-sufficient
communities... for people to have a choice of wanting to live in
the Nass Valley, hopefully, in prosperity with a great
sense of hope for themselves and their children, or
of wanting to live in Vancouver.
I represented, as you did, Ms. Davies, the downtown
east side. It breaks your heart to see
the young aboriginal men and women who are preyed upon
by the pimps, by the drug dealers, by people in our
society who misuse children. They should not be
there. They should not be in the downtown east side.
I think it's sad that the federal government stopped
its funding for housing and for urban aboriginal
services. We need to have those restored
and we need to have that broken society
brought back to being healthy and vigorous.
Hopefully, we can speed up the
treaty process. The problem is there's no
disincentive for bureaucratic negotiators, for lawyers, for
consultants, for aboriginal negotiators to stop negotiating.
When you're making $150,000 a year, when
you're making $350 an hour, you don't want to
stop that. So we have to somehow or another get some
certainty to the amount of time that's going into the
negotiations and fast-track them.
I passed on those
ideas to Eddie Goldenberg and to the deputy minister to
say we have to break the log-jam here in British
Columbia, speed up the process. I have some specific
ideas about how we could do that. Then we can
get into the capacity-building, where people in the
communities, which will stop being reserves and become
communities, can enjoy life or come to the big city and
enjoy life too. It's going to take us 20 years to
40 years to get to that question of choice.
[Editor's Note: Technical Difficulty]
The Chair: Mr. Iftody.
Mr. David Iftody: Thank you very much for the
presentations and for all of you taking
time from very busy schedules to be with us
here this morning.
We've had a good discussion, and I'd like to
continue that. I would like to pick up on the whole
question of this renewed, very faulty
notion of disbanding reserves and moving people to the
cities. This social experiment was tried
somewhat in different patchwork means and measures
throughout the 1960s and 1970s, and of course it was
also documented to be quite tragic.
I say this to Mr. Richards, in particular. I'm
familiar with the work of Chief Justice Kimelman
from Manitoba, who wrote a number of the reports on
aboriginal child welfare in Manitoba leading up to the
development of those agencies and who categorized
quite clearly the removal of some 1,000 children
between the late 1950s to late 1970s from aboriginal
families in Manitoba.
The consequence of taking them into
non-aboriginal homes in Winnipeg, Vancouver,
Philadelphia, or wherever they were was indeed one of
the most profound social mistakes made at the
time. It is interesting that the
social workers and people involved with the Children's
Aid Society at the time deeply believed they were
doing the right thing and they had the best interests of
these children and these families in mind.
Judge Kimelman called this “cultural genocide”.
This very strong language indeed has been reiterated in a
number of reports: the royal commission, the aboriginal
justice inquiry following that, and so on.
I'm not sure where you have found your evidence, but
if you reviewed a number of these national and
regional reports on these practices, I suggest you would
find a different answer.
Before Mr. Richards responds, Mr. Richardson, the Auditor
General appeared before this committee last year.
I had the opportunity to
ask Mr. Desautels and his officials about their
views of the methodology, the protocol used to
evaluate, in this particular instance, the Nisga'a deal, the
land involved in that evaluation.
I read the quote from your report. I could
table some Hansard documents. I asked them whether
they were comfortable with the methodology used in that
particular instance for this Nisga'a agreement, and
they said they were.
Mr. Robin Richardson: I'm
surprised. I'd certainly like to see that material.
My understanding is that
when consulting with the federal and provincial
negotiators, the federal negotiators just took
the land value of $107 million from the province, and
it was referred to as a “notional” value.
So if we're talking about costing the land, and
perhaps he was referring to some of the other items,
I don't think the federal negotiators were involved in it at
all. They just took it from the province, and the
province took a number out of the air for a public
relations value, as near as we can tell.
Mr. John Richards: May I respond?
We have a responsibility here to be respectful of the
complexity and difficulties of this issue. I am
not an aboriginal, but I have worked with aboriginal
people quite closely in Saskatchewan. As Mr.
Bachand was describing and as Libby Davies was
describing, the realities are very painful. We must
not, because of the dire nature of the problem,
caricature. Certainly anything that I said was not
to be equated with the kind of wholesale apprehension
that went on by social workers in the sixties
throughout the country. If we caricature each other's
opinions on these issues, there's no communication.
I come back to what I think is the core painful
trade-off that aboriginals are individually going to
make in the next generation. Far be it for me to say
we should destroy reserves. I would like that they be vibrant.
I hope that Mike Harcourt, Jim Fulton, and
others who have discussed what might be the future of
aboriginal reserves are right. We should not
create large economic incentives that distort the free
decision that aboriginal people should
be able to make. What we are doing is distorting, by
the extent to which the financial incentives are to stay
on the reserve under current policy.
That is a major disincentive to aboriginal people freely deciding
whether or not they want to live their life on the
reserve or in the city.
I don't want to read
it, but I invite you to think hard about it. I don't
agree with everything he has said, but the
welfare minister in Alberta under Ralph Klein's
Conservative administration was a
status Indian and a social worker, and nobody more
eloquent than he has denounced these
The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr. Richards.
Mr. Keddy, it's your five minutes now.
Mr. Gerald Keddy: My first question is to Mr. Fulton.
I've had a number of letters concerned about wildlife,
in particular about the
eagle population in the Nass Valley, from constituents
and from environmental groups. When I read the NFA
I see a lot of protection for habitat
and I see a lot of protection for migratory birds and
fish, game, and wildlife. I'd like your opinion on whether
or not there's appropriate, proper, and enough protection.
Mr. Jim Fulton: I think you're probably referring
to a road proposal to connect Kincolith to the
rest of the Nass Valley. For a variety of reasons at
the foundation, I have become part of a circle of
correspondence regarding the bald eagle
population—just so that members have some sense of
it—at the mouth of the Nass, which is a highly
productive system both for oolichans and other
anadromous stocks such as salmon and steelhead.
At certain times of the year, particularly
in the spring, there are huge congregations of bald
eagles, sometimes in excess of a thousand in that area.
There is a concern from migratory bird specialists both
inside and outside of Canada on where the routing of
the road will go. It's a fairly narrow area in a
couple of places, and bald eagle feeding behaviour and
nesting behaviour can be unduly influenced by road traffic.
My sense is that the provisions, both in the agreement
and perhaps more importantly in the requirements of the
Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the Canadian
Wildlife Service, and the Ministry of Transportation
and Highways here in B.C. in picking the route, which
they are now doing, will be increasingly
sensitive to making sure that the best route is chosen to
minimize any impacts on those very important and
globally significant bald eagle populations.
Mr. Gerald Keddy: My second question is for former
We can break this debate into a couple of
areas. There are groups on both sides who support the treaty
process. Their opposition seems to be that we don't
support this treaty. I have a great deal of difficulty
I don't want to be too political here, but
certainly the Reform has a wrecking-ball approach to
public policy debate in this country. That's
exactly what it is—that somehow you can break
everything down to its basic common denominator and
start over: forget the Supreme Court precedents and
forget everything that's gone before us; you can
just wipe the slate clean and start again. And we just
can't do that.
I've talked to every member of Parliament at this
table at some time or another, and you can check the
records and find they will have said
they support the treaty process.
Our Reform members who sat at the table certainly have said the
same thing. They support the treaty process.
Yet yesterday I read in the Globe and Mail an article
by Mr. Cummins, the Reform fisheries critic, saying
outright that the Marshall decision shows us that
the treaty process can be changed. It was a very
hotly debated decision on the east coast, where I live.
So I'm having a real problem with the logic. Either we
support the treaty process or we don't.
One of the big things you related to and that other
members here have related to is the cost. So what's
the cost if we don't support the treaty process, and
what's the cost now? I'll try to be quick, but I have
to say, we spend $6 billion a year on first nations in
this country. We spend $6 billion on the Department of
Indian Affairs and Northern Development.
The wish and the hope behind this process, the
aspirations, are that at the end of it, the money
flowing out of Ottawa and out of Vancouver and Victoria
and out of the capitals of all the provinces certainly
will be less. First nations will have their own
opportunities and their own incomes. They will be
paying taxes and they will be equal Canadian citizens.
Whatever is the cost today, therefore, it will be less
tomorrow and less the day after, until somewhere down
the road we have certainty at the end of the process,
and the cost is no cost at all.
The Chair: Mr. Harcourt.
Mr. Mike Harcourt: Very briefly, the courts have
said over and over and over again that they're not the
place to settle these issues. In every one of those 55
decisions Mr. Bachand referred to where aboriginal
rights were recognized as existing, they said
don't ask them to define or to make it practical.
That's not what the courts are for. And litigation, I
think, is a dead end. It is just going to lead us back
to that very simple proposition.
Oka, Gustafsen Lake, roadblocks, confrontation—it
doesn't benefit anybody. Therefore, you're left,
whether you like it or not, with one solution, and
Now, you can agree or disagree on the treaty process
that's presently under way on the Nisga'a treaty. I
have some very good friends in the Reform Party, and we
just agree to disagree on that particular point.
I think the Nisga'a treaty is a good compromise. I think
it does provide certainty. I think it will certainly
provide a much better relationship for aboriginal and
non-aboriginal people, particularly in the Nass Valley
and Terrace areas.
Are there other ways? Yes, there probably are other
ways, and we certainly can improve on the process, but
I think we are into negotiations all over Canada. The
Marshall decision is just the opening shot of what
Canada is going to have to face.
Think of what we're facing here in British Columbia.
We're usually looked at as the last part of Canada to come
to grips with the land question, but I would argue that
we're the first part of the country to come
comprehensively to grips with the land issue and
self-government. They're both included in our
I'll very quickly wrap up, because I know there are
other questions and noon is coming, but I think there
are two or three ways to do it. We have the Nisga'a
approach. I don't think it's a template, but I think
it's worked well. We have the approach that's been put
forward by the summit. We also have the approach being
put forward by the people who belong to the Union
of B.C. Indian Chiefs: First admit that we own all the
land and then we'll negotiate, but we won't negotiate
with the provincial government because you're not a
They're wrong. We're not New Zealand. We're a
federal state, and the province is sovereign under
section 92, so you're going to have deal with us
whether you want to or not.
In any event, I think we can take a variety of
approaches that would be flexible, but I'm firmly
convinced that, whether we like like it or not, we're
into a set of negotiations for this generation of
The Chair: Thank you.
Mr. O'Reilly, are you going now?
Oh, sorry, it's Mr. Forseth.
Mr. John O'Reilly: We look the same.
Mr. Paul Forseth: Are you going back and forth?
The Chair: It is Mr. O'Reilly, and then it goes to
you, Mr. Forseth.
Mr. Gerald Keddy: But I'll take Mr. O'Reilly's
The Chair: I think Mr. O'Reilly already gave away
his time earlier this week.
Mr. John O'Reilly: If you ask Keddy the time, he
builds you a grandfather clock.
Mr. Gerald Keddy: I'll try not to do that.
The Chair: Okay, Mr. O'Reilly.
Mr. John O'Reilly: Thank you very much, Madam
I want to come back to the urban-rural shift and just
explain to you that I have the second-largest riding in
southern Ontario, with 10,000 square kilometres, three
area codes, 750 miles of waterway, and a very healthy
fishing industry in the Kawartha Lakes region.
By the way, Ontario does have something the east coast
doesn't have. It has a really good fishing industry.
When I visited Labrador I went to the Sheshatshit Reserve.
I saw there was
no future, no hope, no past. It's ninety miles from
nowhere. There are no fish. There's no industry.
There's no lumber. There are no caribou. There's no
reason. We, the past generations of white people, put
them there, on the reserve. We send them a cheque every
month and tell them not to bother us.
I consider the treaty process, as opposed to
the reserve process, to be the only way to go.
You talked about the urban-rural split. I don't think
taking people and moving them into the cities is the
answer when you talk about east Vancouver. You only
have to come to Toronto, which is 80 miles from where I
live, to see the problems that exist with native people
being shoved into the cities, delivering pamphlets and
being preyed on by the various organizations. So I
think you're wrong.
In fact, people from Toronto who are dying to get out
of there and come to my area are lacking some of the
facilities, such as Internet access and those types of
things, in order to be able to operate.
Why would you want to be in Vancouver when you could
be in Prince George with a computer? Would you rather
be in Toronto or in the beautiful Kawartha Lakes with a
computer? You know, work isn't all moving to the
cities. It is another shift.
I'd like some comment on the treaty process and the
urban-rural split from Mr. Dobell, who was indicating
earlier that he wanted to comment on that.
Perhaps I can start with him, Madam Chair.
The Chair: Mr. Dobell.
Prof. Rod Dobell: To pick up on one point with
respect to this shift from the rural to the urban
setting, I think we have to be clear about where we're
starting from. The fact that we recognize John
Richards' title to his house does not mean we're
creating an inappropriate incentive for him to stay in
The incentive systems we're creating flow from some
prior considerations. The hope of being able to
maintain a decentralized economy with, as you
mentioned, dependence on the communications system; the
possibility that in the so-called high-tech,
knowledge-based economy and society a lot of virtual
employment can be undertaken from various places; and
the possibility that economic development will move in
the direction of a more viable resource
stewardship—these all may mean that we don't have to
follow this economic adjustment, this transition, all
the way to the extreme of a few urban polls in the
So it does seem to me that there are alternatives to
explore and that the prospects created by the final
agreement hold out some hope that those tracks will be
there to create some differences from the historic
track John Richards is properly pointing to.
The Chair: Mr. Harcourt.
Mr. John O'Reilly: On the urban-rural shift...
Mr. Mike Harcourt: Oh, yes, the urban-rural shift.
I have to give a speech in about twenty minutes, so I was
rolling it around in my head.
Frankly, I think people have greater choices now, and
I think the information revolution is making a huge
change. They can live in Mr. O'Reilly's beautiful
riding or they can live in beautiful downtown Toronto.
It depends on what kind of a lifestyle you want, if you
have a choice.
People are moving out of Vancouver and Prince George
and Kelowna and going to Burns Lake and Nelson and
other more attractive communities. A lot of that is
because of air transportation access and the Internet
revolution. So for the growing number of people
involved in services or who have some mobility, I think
that's going to happen.
Frankly, with the aboriginal people, I think we're
missing the point John's trying to make—that the
present reserve system is a failure. You have a 100%
chance of failure there, while in the city, just random
choice, you have a 50-50 chance. There are more
services and so on.
I think the argument needs to be shifted. We want to
get rid of reserves so that people have a good way of
life, whether they're living on a rural reserve or in
Vancouver. There are three different land claims in
Vancouver right now between the Burrard, the Squamish,
and the Musqueam. We still have to settle those issues.
Mr. John O'Reilly: Thank you very much, Madam
The Chair: Thank you very much.
We'll have Mr.
Forseth for five minutes, and then our last round will
be over. There will be one more round on the government
side, and then we'll be ending. Go ahead.
Mr. Paul Forseth: Thank you. Time is short, so
I'll try to be succinct.
I would ask our presenters,
how do you respond to the general sense of the need for
political legitimacy in the long term? What we're
doing today, and what's been done, is what I can at
best characterize very charitably as a managed
democratic process. What I observed in the process of
the Charlottetown Accord was that as the terms and
consequences were gradually absorbed by the public,
political legitimacy evaporated. At least that deal
went away. The consequences of this one won't.
Based on what I've observed in the process so far, as
Canada absorbs the consequences of Nisga'a, I think
it's going to bring uncertainty and trouble, rather
than help and certainty. Certainly, to really help
someone and help a situation there must be a basic
understanding and agreement that is far beyond law. I
call it political legitimacy.
I conducted a community-wide survey in the riding of
New Westminster—Coquitlam—Burnaby, and I asked three
questions. I asked, “Do you believe that a
province-wide binding referendum is necessary before
ratifying the Nisga'a treaty?” I had 67.8% say yes;
27.55% said no; 4.33% said they were unsure; and 0.31%
had no answer.
Then I asked the second question: “Would you read more
detailed information on the deal if it were
available?” Well, 65.33% said yes; 24.46% said no; 7.74% were
unsure; and there was no answer from 2.48%.
Then I asked the final question: “When the Nisga'a
treaty is tabled in the House of Commons, how do you
wish me to vote?” In favour of the deal was 26.0%;
against the deal was 59.13%; 11.15% said they did not
have enough information to make an informed decision;
3.41% were undecided; and 0.31% had no answer.
this then presents a difficulty for the idea of
In the theme of needing long-term
political legitimacy, and in view of how Nisga'a has
unfolded, what advice do you have for the next
rounds in the remaining fifty-some deals to be done?
Certainly we need to learn a lot from how Nisga'a has
unfolded for the required political legitimacy for the
others to come.
Who would like to comment on that?
The Chair: Mr. Fulton, go ahead.
Mr. Jim Fulton: Well, I'd be glad to start.
When you put statistics like that out, I remind
you that the University of Calgary did a poll not so
long ago, and 31% of the people living in Calgary think
that Elvis Presley is still alive. It really depends
on who you're polling and what you think you're telling
The simple fact of the matter is that this committee
is going to have to become a lot more powerful and
focused. The Nisga'a agreement and treaty is not a
template for the aboriginal people in British Columbia,
and former premier Harcourt has said that.
In terms of what's happened with the Marshall
decision, there are lots of changes there. In terms of
Delgamuukw, there are lots of changes there. What the
public needs—and I was just saying this to Dr.
Dobell—is a lot more precise, understandable material,
and a lot less of this bombastic, blowhard stuff about
race-based fisheries, race-based rights, and all of
that kind of inflammatory, exaggerated garbage.
People in this country are very open-hearted and
open-minded, and frankly, they're disgusted at how
aboriginal people have been treated throughout most of
this century and since contact. Those who for cowardly
reasons go out and attack aboriginal people and
Listen to what the one aboriginal
member on this committee has gone through. As a
British Columbian—as a Canadian—I apologize for
what's happened to you as a member of Parliament
sitting on this committee.
Committees like this
had better face up to the fact that there is some big
damn change coming in this country, and there's no use
hiding in the weeds, hiding behind little stats, and
hiding behind race-based language.
Get with the program. Either you go the Oka route or
you go the negotiation route. It's about time all
members on this committee started rowing in the same
direction, or there's going to be hell to pay.
The Chair: Mr. Richardson, go ahead.
Mr. Robin Richardson: I think that's a very
perceptive question about political acceptance, and my
plea earlier, in my opening remarks, was that if we're
going to have acceptance of more and more British
Columbians—and I think it's just a question of more
knowledge—we need to recognize that we're talking about huge
amounts of crown land that are being transferred to
a very small
number of people, and that the B.C. taxpayers have a
legitimate claim to some compensation from Ottawa for
these huge amounts of crown land they're losing.
So if your committee would recognize and accept that
position, and recommend that some money come back from
Ottawa to British Columbia, it would go a long way to
turning around many people—not everyone, but many
people—in getting this acceptance. This is the first
of more than sixty, and it is a template. It is not an
elimination of the reserve system; it's the creation of
a larger reserve.
The Chair: Thank you.
Do you have a point of order, Ms. Davies?
Ms. Libby Davies: I
haven't been at the other hearings, and I just wonder how it
works in terms of the rounds. If one opposition member
gets an additional question, do the rest not?
The Chair: Right now, because of the time, we
have extended time for this panel. Basically, I'm
going to allow one question to balance the opposition,
because the Reform Party has had one extra round here.
I'm going to allow one question within our timeframe.
If people had stuck to their time, it would have worked
out perfectly. Unfortunately...
Mr. Finlay, go ahead.
Mr. John Finlay: Madam Chair, if I'm very brief,
maybe Ms. Davies can put her question.
agree more with Mr. Fulton.
Mr. Richardson, I hope that perhaps you've listened to
some of the things we've said, because if you're going
to start from a false premise, then we're going to get
bad numbers. I just can't imagine... It seems to me
passing strange that our government would send some of our
troops to Bosnia and East Timor, where people are being
dispossessed, human rights are being violated, and we
would calculate how much it costs. The cost
goes across the country. The federal government
doesn't have a great barrel of money that it gives out.
It's all taxpayers' money. We're all responsible for
it. I find it interesting that you are going to make
costs to this treaty that are absolutely unfounded on
the philosophy and the principles we're talking about.
Land doesn't belong to B.C. It belongs to Canada and
to the people of Canada, and the aboriginal
people happen to be one of them.
Ms. Kunin said that in her opinion this treaty has
been negotiated in good faith by all involved, and if
you get equal grousing then you've probably got a good
agreement. Now, I want to know, on that basis, whether
we have a good agreement. Then we can go on to other
agreements. If we can get rid of the straw men and
the imaginary costs and all this other stuff that
doesn't apply to what we're trying to solve... We're
practical politicians. We're trying to do what the
people of this country want, and we're going to move in
that direction come hell or high water—as long as I'm
The Chair: Mr. Richardson, for a very brief
Mr. Robin Richardson: Thank you.
percent of the land in British Columbia is crown land
and it belongs to the people of British Columbia. What
I've said in my study—the methodology is there, and
you can agree with it or not—is that we can take
an objective approach to measuring the value of this
crown land. My approach is being conservative. If
that's true, if we cost it properly, there's
compensation coming back to B.C. taxpayers. Our
provincial government's missed the boat entirely on
The Chair: Thank you very much.
Now, before we
close our meeting, I want to announce again that any
person in the public who wishes to present a written
brief—that's how you get your input into this
committee—can give it to the clerk, who is either
outside or over here to the left.
I also want to thank my colleagues around the table
and the colleagues presenting. This was a larger
panel, but it was felt that having the opposing
viewpoints together at the same panel would help us do
our questioning better. That was the philosophy.
Normally we don't have so many people. This
afternoon we have a fairly large group again.
I want to say thank you to the presenters. The
discussion is on divergent viewpoints, especially here,
it seems, so we'll have to hear from both sides all the
time. You've made our meeting very useful.
I also want to thank the audience, because they have
assisted us today so that we could clearly hear all of
the testimonial as it was given. I hope it was
beneficial for you also.
Thank you. We'll adjourn and reconvene at
one o'clock and go all afternoon again. Thank you very