Friday, July 11, 2014

thoughts on recent Tsilhqot'in decision, Supreme Court of Canada

The recent Tsilhqot’in Supreme Court of Canada decision on Aboriginal title was a reminder to Canadians that the supreme law of this nation is the Constitution – it existed long before the Harper Conservative federal government and fortunately, will remain in effect long after this government is history. We have seen with the Harper government, with respect not only to Enbridge Northern Gateway proposed bitumen/ condensate pipeline project, but also many other issues, a flagrant disregard and disrespect for the Constitution. Harper has positioned himself as an ultimate authority of the country and throughout the course of his run, has on numerous occasions disregarded the Constitution including the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. His record in this regard leads me to question: to what extent does he understand the legal framework under which a Prime Minister operates? His government’s repeated undemocratic thuggish policies that contravene the Constitution create a massive wasting of taxpayer dollars in processes that run the serious risk of leading to ultimate legal defeat. Example: Enbridge Northern Gateway. The Constitution of Canada has always acknowledged Aboriginal rights; the Tsilhqot’in decision clarifies that First Nations consent first needs to be obtained where Aboriginal title is established on specific territory and any incursions by government into such title would have to meet a high threshold test grounded in their fiduciary duty to First Nations. On the Enbridge Northern Gateway file alone, there are currently more than ten court cases commenced or pending against this federal government due in large part to their lack of regard for Constitution and legal process. Result? Mounting costs for taxpayers, and for what? So we can ultimately have a dangerous pipeline punched across our watersheds against the will of the majority of the people of BC? So we have mega-oil tankers travelling up and down Douglas Channel, home of humpback whales, spirit bear and so many other species? There is a federal election next year – the next government needs to learn that a starting point for advancing any kind of economy needs to start with respect and dialogue before closed door decisions are made and then imposed on First Nations (not to mention the rest of us!). This starting point to governing will ultimately save all Canadian taxpayers lots of money, wasted effort, uncertainty and frustration.

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