No details, no devil's advocate

The provincial New Democrats' new aboriginal relations and reconciliation critic Bob Simpson said yesterday his party didn't make the proposed Recognition and Reconciliation Act an election issue because because the Campbell administration hasn't yet released details of that legislation. "There's not a lot to get you can get your teeth into when all you have is a background document and some intent," he explained on Public Eye Radio.

Mr. Simpson added British Columbia's business, forestry and mining associations didn't make that legislation an election issue either. And without those third party validators it was difficult for the New Democrats' to raise the issue.

"Otherwise," he explained, "you get into that either, or - we just get into our opposition role saying, 'The government's bad. This is something British Columbians should be scared of.' You've got to fear monger. If you don't have people who are going to push a certain agenda then you've got to move onto other things."

That being said though, when asked if the Recognition and Reconciliation Act should have become - in the words of Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs president Stewart Phillip - a "partisan issue...kicked around in the election" - Mr. Simpson said, "No. I agree with Grand Chief Stewart Phillip's statement that really this is one that we have to get beyond partisanship."

"We can't simply make this oppositional politics - the old back and forth. I think we owe it to all British Columbians - present generations and future generations and to those in the past - to try to get appropriate recognition for First Nations."

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