Former provincial New Democrat advanced education, training and technology minister Tom Perry says his party's decision to support the Tsawwassen Treaty isn't "courageous." Speaking with Public Eye, Dr. Perry explained, "I think that, politically, it's very dangerous for the NDP to turn it's back on a heritage of really important ideas which have won it the respect of the public. There are very few political ideas that define the NDP in British Columbia. If one asks oneself what they are, one is the agricultural land reserve" - an idea which is undermined by the treaty.
"It adds one more very serious blow to a concept which was revolutionary, bold and one of the defining characteristics of the first NDP government which won the respect of the British Columbians for decades in 1973. And if this treaty proceeds, I don't see how it can't help but seriously weaken the agricultural land reserve," Dr. Perry added referring to the fact the treaty will transfer 207 hectares of land from that protective zone to the Tsawwassen First Nation.
The former Vancouver-Little Mountain legislator also said he thinks his party should oppose the deal because "this is part of Premier (Gordon) Campbell's strategy to co-opt the NDP into supporting Gateway" - a provincial transportation infrastructure program meant to support increase trade with Asia. That program would get a boost if the Tsawwassen First Nation, as expected, use some of their new land to build a container storage facility for Deltaport.
"Although, I don't have any trouble that the expanded container traffic will increase the gross domestic product and provide more tax revenues and more jobs, it must - by definition - do so at the expense of the global environment. So one cannot logically be in favour of controlling global warming and be simultaneously be in favour of massively expanding transoceanic trade in commodities. So it's the old 1987 to 1990 sustainable development gone wild. It's the development that's sustainable - not the environment. And I think it's disappointing the Official Opposition doesn't provide a focus for those people in British Columbia and Canada who do understand" that.
Back in April, Dr. Perry told a Simon Fraser University forum on urban land claims the New Democrat's fence-sitting on the Tsawassen Treaty was making him "question my ongoing membership in the NDP" - suggesting he could quit the party if it didn't take a strong stand for agricultural land. This, according to a report by The Leader's Jeff Nagle. Asked if the New Democrat's decision to endorse the treaty means he'll be tearing up his membership card, said, "I would expect at the least - or hope - that some of the MLAs who do not agree with the decision will vote their conscience. I think if they don't that would certainly seal my fate."