We all know that Indian Affairs Minister Robert Nault and his Governance Act has been a topic of much discussion among the AFN chiefs. And deservedly so: without consultation with the chiefs it is just another piece of colonialism. National Grand Chief Matthew Coon Come is right to speak out against this piece of legislation. It is the imposing of the will of one people against another, something that falls into the realm of genocide according to the United Nations definition. But that definition doesn’t apply to Canada, of course, as Ottawa has changed the definition here to allow such practices.
One can only hope that the chiefs will address another piece of colonialism at its worst — the B.C. referendum on treaty negotiations.
You can see it for yourself by going to: http://www.elections.bc.ca/referendum/ finalresults.pdf If you link to this file, you will find, as expected, that of the 700,000 people who voted in the referendum (only just over a third of those eligible returned their mail-in ballots), about 95 per cent followed the government’s biased positions against Aboriginal rights in B.C.. The results are broken down into district and even the final question of phasing out Native tax exempt status is answered against the natives. It marks a low point in B.C. -Aboriginal relations. One must realize that the provincial government never had the power to affect any of the changes. But it says in accordance with the referendum act that all results 50 per cent or higher are binding on the provincial government.
However, the court cases are continuing regardless of Victoria’s antics, and the question of legitimacy remains – it is the federal government and not the provincial government that has the power to constitutionally define Indian policy. Also, section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, freezes and entrenches all Aboriginal or Treaty Rights that exist as of the date April 1982. So it would be hard for a mail-in referendum to somehow disenfranchise B.C. Natives of their constitutionally protected rights. The tax free exempt status and any other claims that can be seen to have existed in part or whole at the point of the Constitution define something much larger than the B.C. Government. As for the government itself, it has had the lack of foresight to see this before spending millions of dollars on this referendum.
Enjoy reading the questions, results and such, of the B.C. referendum. Although bleak, please remember the real questions are: 1. the legitimacy of process; 2. the legitimacy of questions as they were biased to attain certain answers; 3. the unreturned ballots – were they a boycott or protest by B.C. voters?; 4. merit of exercise (authority of province to unilaterally make changes to Indian policy in light of Constitution and the fact Native rights and treaties are federal jurisdiction); and lastly, 5. Does it compromise good faith in the B.C. Treaty Process as the negotiators will be going in with an agenda of extinguishment? Please check out the website and educate yourself accordingly.