The Reform Party is hoping to target the Nisga’a treaty as a way of discrediting the Liberal government’s approach to Aboriginal issues.
Reform is against the treaty and thinks the government is giving too much to First Nations.
The Nisga’a is in the House of Commons awaiting the legislature’s stamp of approval. It is the first of several dozen treaty negotiations in British Columbia to come up for approval.
The Nisga’a people of northern B.C. spent 112 years trying to get their rights recognized. The treaty cedes to them 2,019 square kilometres of provincial land – a fraction of their ancestral land – and $486 milion in land and cash over 15 years.
Many First Nations oppose the treaty because it sends a bad precedent in not getting enough for the Nisga’a people. For example, the Nisga’a and everyone else living in their land will have to pay taxes.
Indian Affairs Minister Robert Nault is premising to defend the treaty in the House of Commons. “Canada is not a country where aboriginal Canadians must stop being
aboriginals,” he told reporters.
The agreement is “the right thing for the Nisga’a nation, their fellow British Columbians and all Canadians,” he said.
“This is the beginning of modern-day treaty-making in British Columbia, not the end.”
But the Reform Party said in debate in the Parliament that the treaty would lead to the “balkanization of Canada.”