Last month, The Globe and Mail's Mark Hume reported the Campbell administration had opened "high-level" discussions with First Nations leaders concerning the introduction of legislation recognizing aboriginal rights and title. Among those representing the administration: Lorne Brownsey, who had been the government's aboriginal relations and reconciliation deputy minister since June 2005 until he shuffled to tourism, culutre and the arts earlier this week. But reaction to that shuffle among aboriginal leaders seems to be mixed.
In an interview with Public Eye, First Nations Summit Grand Chief Edward John said Mr. Brownsey's transfer didn't concern him because the minister responsible, Mike de Jong, remains the same.
"I don't make a big issue out of it. We've dealt with so many ministers, so many deputies in the past. We just carry on with whoever the next person is. And hopefully they're off running at the same pace everyone else is moving on this. Obviously, they'll be a period of transition" for the new deputy minister Bob de Faye. "But the process that we have should engage him. And we have a process that ends on April 9 because the election will be on May 12. So we're mindful of that. And we want to press hard to try to find some resolution before then."
But, for his own part, Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs Grand Chief Stewart Philip said, "I don't think there's any question that former deputy minister Brownsey has had significant and substantial experience dealing with First Nations issues throughout his years in public service. And he was certainly in a position to contribute his expertise to the table. I don't think there's any question that will be missed."
"I personally don't know this new person. I'm not familiar with him - what his background or expertise is. But I do know that deputy minister Brownsey was very committed to our agenda of recognition and reconciliation. I never doubted that for a moment. He had made a very personal and sincere commitment to that agenda. So I was upset to hear he would be leaving."