Garson: "this proposed bill was drafted...with no consultation from industry..."

The British Columbia Chamber of Commerce is internally raising concerns about the provincial government's Recognition and Reconciliation Act, Public Eye has exclusively learned. In an email sent on Friday, policy development vice president Jon Garson states the chamber believes there "are elements of the proposed legislation that hold some merit." But, that being said, Mr. Garson writes "there is nothing in this proposal" that will bring certainty to the province's land base. Instead, the legislation will "result in business having to interact with both government and First Nation's." The email also alleges the chamber wasn't consulted or adequately advised about the proposed legislation.

"The challenge for the business community is that this proposed bill was drafted by the First Nations Leadership Council and the BC Government (a small group of Ministry people) with no consultation from industry, and little in the way of meaningful input from other Ministries or from the federal government," writes Mr. Garson.

"Indeed, the Chamber was only made aware of this legislation at a meeting we attended with a number of other industry groups, along with representatives from First Nations Leadership Summit, as well as Premier (Gordon) Campbell, Minister Mike (De Jong) and senior government officials on Saturday February 28."

The chamber is meeting with other business groups on Monday to "develop a coordinated position." But it has taken the position that "the sheer scope of the legislation means that it is imperative that the government undertake an extensive consultation process with business, communities and all British Columbians prior to proceeding." The following is a complete copy of the aforementioned email.

***

----- Original Message -----
From: Jon Garson
Sent: Friday, March 06, 2009 2:58 PM
Subject: Recognition and Reconciliation Act

Many of you may have been made aware of a proposed piece of legislation being considered by the provincial government around the issue of first nations recognition.

We have attached a document produced by the government that was endorsed by the Union of BC Indian Chiefs that is a blueprint for the planned legislation. The legislation is intended to result in the following outcomes;

- Full, legal, acknowledgement and recognition that First Nation "╦ťexist'

- Recognition of First Nation title and rights

- Provision for an Indigenous Nations Commission that would oversee an amalgamation of the existing 203 bands into 30 First Nation communities (this would be a choice of each individual band).

- Shared decision making, Shared decision-making would have 3 parts or steps. 1) Comprehensive, as negotiated as part of the establishment of a new indigenous nation; 2) Interim: arrangements negotiated between the Crown and First Nations while negotiations proceed on the establishment of an indigenous nation; 3) Default: essentially the status quo for nations that opt out or where the process has not started, but with a more concerted effort by government to involve affected FNs.

- Resource revenues sharing

- Process for dispute resolution

It should also be noted that the government feels the treaty process as we know it can continue under this scenario, particularly for those bands that don't want to be part of the Indigenous Nation concept.

Chamber concerns

The Chamber has held a consistent position that the key issue with regards to interaction between First Nations and the business community must be certainty around the land base. While the government have expressed the notion that the proposed legislation will provide that certainty our initial impression (not having seen the actual legislation) is that there is nothing in this proposal that we see that will bring "certainty of process" rather this will result in business having to interact with both government and FN's.

Our concern is further heightened by a statement made recently by Ed John, one of the key First Nation leaders involved in the drafting of the legislation when he stated;

"We have high hopes for application of the newly proposed Recognition and Reconciliation Act. It's not enough for a mining company to go to government for a permit. It's not going to happen anymore. ... The reality of conducting business will change."

The challenge for the business community is that this proposed bill was drafted by the First Nations Leadership Council and the BC Government (a small group of Ministry people) with no consultation from industry, and little in the way of meaningful input from other Ministries or from the Federal Government. Indeed, the Chamber was only made aware of this legislation at a meeting we attended with a number of other industry groups, along with representatives from First Nations Leadership Summit, as well as Premier Campbell, Minister De Jong and senior government officials on Saturday February 28.

Since the meeting on Saturday the BC Chamber has been involved in a number of other meetings with key officials and on Monday will be meeting with other business groups to develop a coordinated position.

At this point the Chamber has taken the general position that while we appreciate the governments intention and the fact that there are elements of the proposed legislation that hold some merit (the moving from 203 bands to 30 indigenous nations as an example) the sheer scope of the legislation means that it is imperative that the government undertake an extensive consultation process with business, communities and all British Columbians prior to proceeding.

The Chamber will continue to be focused intensely on this matter and we will keep you posted as developments unfold. In addition, we would like to hear from you as to any concerns that have been raised by your members on this issue given that the sheer scale of this initiative will impact all businesses and sectors who use the land base.

Regards

Jon Garson
Vice President, Policy Development

1 Comment

Let's see if I got this right...?

203 independant First-Nation's,
will have the choice to EXTINGUISH their treaty right's , to get 1/30th of the negociating power they have now...?

for example: where the highway goes..!
Wouldn't that effect one of the 203 Nation's right's , to exploit the small-business oppertunities such as Gas-Station's & Resterant's ect ...?

( cheep gas & smokes on resurve lands ) something to do with Tax's !

--- To bad the Chamber doesn't see FN's as
recuitable new-member's ...!


--------- Bottom line ----------

I keep thinking of Qubec as a province,
and it's supper-power relation ship it has to the rest of Canada...!

Out of the "Consolidated" 30 First-Nation's proposal , can we see one or two of them being the "regional-super-power"...?

Certainly some, of the 203-First-Nation's, are already capable opting-out and standing on their own.

So why would they want to suceed ,,,?
possibly to prevent becoming isolated with-in a region...? ( like palistinian's in isreal )

ted... ( who controll's the human-right's )

or the right's of an individual , who lives with-in one of those new-region's , to find some "independance" though starting a small-business of their own...?

( Qubec's sign law is a good reminder )

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