Speaking against the backdrop of a bright red sign that said "vote anyone but Clark," a group of First Nations leaders gathered in downtown Vancouver to deliver an unambiguous message against Premier Christy Clark and her team.

"Our message is clear. It's time for change," Grand Chief Stewart Phillip said.

He cited the BC Liberal government's preoccupation with LNG projects, the Site C dam, the deaths of foster children in government care, and 'cash for access' corporate donations among the reasons he supports a change of government. The last day to vote in the B.C. provincial election is May 9, although early voting is already taking place.

He said the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs sent out a detailed questionnaire to all parties recently, and that the BC Liberal Party's responses indicate a "status quo" policy toward First Nations. He said the BC NDP delivered the most comprehensive response, and that the BC Greens' answers suggested a lack of understanding of issues concerning Indigenous communities.

BC Green Party leader Andrew Weaver responded swiftly to today's press conference, releasing a statement that the "Green Party is fully committed to working with Indigenous leaders to create a respectful relationship, based on true partnership and ongoing dialogue, regardless of the outcome of the election.”

"I'm really disturbed by the trite, disrespectful answers that Ms. Clark always gives about jobs and the economy," Cecilia Point, a Musqueam woman, said. "She talks about the economy, but women fleeing violence have had their funding cut to the bone...this economy is benefiting just a few."

She said First Nations have a right to decide what corporations can do business on their territory, and said the BC Liberal government has left Indigenous communities feeling they haven't been adequately heard.

Wet'suwet'en Chief Namoks said he and other chiefs felt disrespected when the Premier visited their territory in November 2016, but declined a request for meeting with hereditary chiefs who wanted to speak to her about their concerns over LNG development.

"This past year, Premier Clark was on our territory. She absolutely insulted us by not meeting with our chiefs...We requested that she meet on our land and she refused," he said. "Our people get so frustrated that we step back, but that can't happen anymore. Our youth, elders, all British Columbians must get out to vote. Do not sit back."

Regarding Premier Clark's statements that liquefied natural gas projects will provide jobs in indigenous communities, Chief Namoks and Grand Chief Stewart Phillip said that the jobs are "transient" and that the projects are not likely to lead to long-term growth due to difficulties in the Asian market for LNG.

A request for comment has been sent to the Premier's office, and a reply is pending.

Investigative journalism has never been more important. Will you help?

Subscribe

Comments

Hm, I wonder what Jenny Uechi means when she says both the BC NDP and BC Green Party have announced their opposition to "the project" in their platforms. What project is she talking about?

I also wonder if she wrote this based on files or whether she had an opportunity to question Grand Chief Stewart Phillip and the other First Nations leaders who met in downtown Vancouver. They seem (rightly) perturbed by Christy Clark's LNG promises. Did they notice that John Horgan supports LNG development and has promised to do what Clark did not, which is to get the industry established and running? Did the UBCIC questionnaire to party leaders ask about their views on LNG? If not, why not?

In the past, the Grand Chief has berated voters for not voting strategically to dump the BC Liberals. How would he define the strategic vote in 2017, and why?

It matters to me who First Nations think they can work with. However, I need a clear understanding of how they reconciled John Horgan's support of LNG with their criticism of Christy Clark's support of LNG. They didn't just look the other way, did they? If so, why would they do that? What the hell is it about political life that I don't understand?

I would also note that David Suzuki and Grand Chief Stewart Phillip have shared dozens of stages and travelled to numerous trouble spots together to lend support to First Nations. This year Suzuki is campaigning for the Greens. What is it that he understands that the Grand Chief does not?

It's funny, really, that a scrappy little online news outlet in Kelowna makes clear what the National Observer did not: the Chiefs are actually supporting an anyone-but-Clark strategy, not an NDP-over-everyone strategy. https://www.castanet.net/news/BC/195924/Chiefs-Anyone-but-Clark

When, as in Canada, and in B.C., none of whom has ever declared war against Gitlachmoon, or against First Nations, not against each, or any of them, all 198 of them, in Indian Country, the atrocities that they have committed in the act of stealing Aboriginal lands and its natural resources are obscenities, violations of their own laws. They are carrying it out in an undeclared psychological warfare. In the obstreperous unarmed conflict, they are war crimes, nevertheless, man’s inhumanity to his fellow man.
That is disturbing.
What is not so obvious, but what makes it all the more repulsive and atrocious, is that they are First Nations’ fiduciaries, 'to protect the Indians, and the lands reserved for the Indians', s. 91 (24), British North America Act, 1867 (Great Britain), cum Constitution Act, 1982 (Canada), s. 35 (1).
Monk, J held in the Supreme Court of Canada, Connolly v. Woolrich (1867), that British law does not apply to First Nations wherever the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC), operated, chartered 2 May 1670, including today, not being amended, or rescinded.
Canadian case law does not change over time, nor does it cease to operate, nor does it cease to apply, through disuse.
Ayaawgm Gitlachmoon is in full force, and effect, in Gitlachmoon, overriding Canadian constitutional law, the 'Indian Act', and ‘band custom’.
Not only that, it is a Criminal Code of Canada offense, Tort of Misfeasance, a misprision of fraud, treason, and genocide, its concealment by public officials, the failure to report it to the prosecuting authorities (the police, the courts) by a person who has not committed it, namely MPs, and MLAs. Why, their silence?
Horrors, Bruce Clark reported it in the Supreme Court of Canada, and the Canadian Bar Association and the Law Society of B.C. ganged up on him and disbarred him, for defending First Nations, ‘1995 Gustafsen Lake standoff’, outnumbered 400:20!

The more I read about the Greens the more I am realizing that they are nothing but a mini-Clark Liberal party which Liberal party is really a mutant Harper/Canadian Reform Alliance Party. There are ex-Harper people in her cabinet and new candidates running for election along with key senior people from the Corporations that fund her. Harper and Manning both publicly support the Clark Liberals when there is already a Progressive Conservative party in B.C. which is very telling. The Clark Liberals are anything but Liberals.
https://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2017/04/25/Green-Party-Contradictions/

Hi Dawn,

I agree with your comments about the very conservative nature of the BC Liberal,Party, but disagree fundamentally with your ignorant characterization f the BC Greens. Please note I say ignorant, not stupid. You ignore that Andrew Weaver in Sept. 2015 spoke at length in the BC Legislature against Site C and that the Greens have said they will CANCEL it, while the NDP will send it for review to the BC Utilities Commission. Furthermore the NDP are open to fracking and LNG, under the right conditions, whatever that is, while, again, the Greens unequivocally oppose it. Regardless of the calculus used by the UBCIC to get rid of Christy Clark, the environmental stance of the Greenscis much closer to the philosophy expressed by BC First Nations than the NDP. The Greens social policies are also very progressive. Please choose to inform yourself. I would be happy to read EVIDENCE of the Greens' alleged conservatism.

I'd suggest read the Green Party platform, rather than allowing an opinion piece by a former NDP strategist to entirely shape your views of the Greens. You may come out with similar conclusions, but it's always important to look for sources of possible bias. Similarly, if I wanted an objective understanding of the NDP, I wouldn't look to a Green party strategist for that background.

Clearly the writer you cite doesn't want the progressive vote split, and Clark to come out on top as a result again, as happened with Harper. I'd say that, further, he clearly favours the NDP, and one can imagine why, given his history. However, Canadians who care about things like electoral reform and urgent action on climate change were disappointed by voting strategically for the Trudeau Liberals, only to have them push through more pipeline approvals than Harper succeeded in achieving, as well as completely discarding their oft-repeated promise to get rid of FPTP politics on a federal level. Why bother voting strategically, for a party whose platform may not be that which you support most strongly, motivated by fear of vote-splitting, when there is no guarantee in any regard that the supposed frontrunner opposition party will keep their word after being elected? I think this is what the Greens are arguing.

The Federal Liberal party, I suspect, will have damaged their success in the next election more by revealing themselves as self-serving liars about electoral reform, than they would have, if they had brought in proportional representation, and thus revealed themselves as trustworthy, and worth re-electing. As it is, anyone who cares about electoral reform and environment is unlikely to waste their vote on Mr Trudeau et al again.

It will be interesting to see what action the NDP take on electoral reform, if they chance to win government. I'd bet they pull a Trudeau, but I'd love to be wrong. If I was assured the NDP would not turn around and try to push the fossil fuel industry forward if elected, I'd give some thought to voting for them. I don't hear a clear message from them, however, that they get that climate change is an urgent threat to all of us, and to our children and grandchildren. I think their concern is for the jobs of resource workers now, and not for the wellbeing of the planet we pass on to our own kids, even though we can all feel and see the planet changing rapidly around us, in mostly harmful and costly ways.

My take is that the Green Party best understands the urgent need to step away from the brink, and step away from the fossil fuel industry toward a vastly less harmful renewable energy industry. That's what matters most to me.

A consensus was needed on electoral reform and there was no way the Conservatives or the NDP were going to have that happen. Hence, the constant bickering instead of working together to develop a plan and putting an end to the attempt at reforming our electoral voting system.

Today's must read