LETTER: Nisga’a parallel state poses tough questions

In B.C., our often-envied Canadian cultural mosaic is at risk of becoming a dysfunctional and tattered societal quilt

Re: Nisga’a prove critics wrong, B.C. Views (Dec. 3)

Despite a perceived regretful tone in Tom Fletcher’s opinion piece, he seems to have had an epiphany that’s led to his urging acceptance of the Supreme Court of Canada ruling which enabled the creation by the Nisga’a First Nation of (Fletcher’s words) “a parallel state” in B.C. Not noted is that Supreme Court rulings can be, and not infrequently are, overturned.

Fletcher, unlike many of us, may never have learned “that two wrongs don’t make a right.”

The first long-standing wrong at issue is the sorry treatment of aboriginals in both B.C. and across Canada.

Despite significant improvements over recent years, more remains to be done.

The second wrong is that the Supreme Court of Canada ruling now enables a new layer of government in B.C.

What’s been created is a “landed gentry” of sorts who’ve in effect received Supreme Court authority to exercise sovereign powers, and they now plan to establish multiple export-enabling LNG terminals on the B.C. coast.

B.C. taxpayers will follow such developments with interest, particularly if there is no parallel commitment by the Nisga’a to assume increasing responsibility for both federal and provincial government services as their “parallel state” business plans prove profitable.

The old adage that “there’s only one taxpayer” could, with Nisga’a concurrence remain a truism.

It’s based on the realization that whether for services provided by local, provincial or federal governments, most voters and elected leaders have long recognized that it’s the voting taxpayer who, over time, determines both government funding levels and program priorities.

Unanswered questions include: Will this aboriginal “parallel state” acknowledge a responsibility to – within its anticipated capability – participate as a fully functional entity within our national federation?

Will it fund a portion of the many provincial and federal government services it now receives? Will it commit to creating and funding its self-determined unique government service programs?

Historical antipathy between First Nation, local, provincial and federal agencies indicates a need for strong but flexible leadership at all four governmental levels. In seeking a comprehensive governmental rebalancing, we’ll hopefully avoid historically based emotional rhetoric supporting retributive rationale if we’re to minimize (costly) long-term confrontational negotiations.

In B.C., our often-envied Canadian cultural mosaic is at risk of becoming a dysfunctional and tattered societal quilt.

Ron Johnson

Saanich

Just Posted

Saanich Volunteer Services Society volunteers head out to deliver this week’s meals to local seniors. (Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)
VIDEO: Weekly meal deliveries help brighten the day for Saanich seniors

Seniors are delivered nutritional meals by a group of volunteers every Wednesday

O.K. Industries is building a quarry next to Capital Regional District land, as shown in this map from the rezoning applicaiton. (Photo courtesy District of Highlands)
Millstream Quarry wins again in court against Highlands community’s appeal

Judges rule province not obligated to investigate climate change before issuing permit

Kidspace, which took over the YMCA-YWCA childcare centre at Eagle Creek Village, plans to reopen the Y’s fitness centre as the Eagle Creek Athletic Club in September. (Photo courtesy of Kidpsace)
Former Y fitness centre in View Royal aims to reopen in September

Kidspace taking over both the gym and the childcare facility at Eagle Creek Village

Tyson Muzzillo, regional manager of BC Cannabis Store, welcomes shoppers to their Uptown location, opening on June 16. (Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)
Government-run cannabis store opening at Saanich’s Uptown

BC Cannabis Store the first for government in Greater Victoria, 27th in province

Mural artist Paul Archer will soon begin work on a piece on the rear of a building at 100 Burnside Road West. (Gorge Tillicum Community Association)
Back of Burnside building in Saanich to feature mural of hope and positivity

Artist Paul Archer says subject will inspire memories, depict children’s future, sunshine, flowers

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
VIDEO: Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

Two Lotto Max tickets sold on Vancouver Island were winners, though nobody won the $70-million jackpot in Tuesday’s draw. (BCLC image)
Vancouver Island lottery players win $1 million and $500,000 in Lotto Max draw

$1 million ticket sold in Campbell River, $500,000 ticket sold in Nanaimo

St. Joseph's Mission site is located about six kilometres from Williams Lake First Nation. (Photo submitted)
Williams Lake First Nation to search residential school site for unmarked graves

St. Joseph’s Mission Indian Residential School operated from 1886 to 1981

Tuesday’s Lotto Max draw went unclaimed. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Tuesday’s Lotto Max draw went unclaimed. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lotto Max jackpot goes unclaimed again

42 of the 64 Maxmillion prizes of $1 million were won, the majority were sold in Ontario

FILE - This July 6, 2017 file photo shows prescription drugs in a glass flask at the state crime lab in Taylorsville, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)
Contaminants in generic drugs may cause long-term harm to DNA: B.C. researcher

Scientist says findings suggest high volume overseas facilities require strict regulation

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., on April 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Labour shortages, closed borders major obstacles to B.C. restaurant, tourism restarts

Industry expert says it won’t start to recover until international travellers can visit

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Most Read