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Treaty Negotiators Stalling?

Former Yukon Premier and now critic of the BC Treaty Process Tony Penikett has some interesting comments about why treaties are taking so long to complete in British Columbia. As noted in the Vancouver Sun, Penikett says:

Treaty negotiators on all sides are careerists or hourly paid professionals … They have no fear of unemployment or bankruptcy. They have no financial incentive to settle. Indeed, their incentives are perverse.

The comments come from Penikett’s new book Reconciliation: First Nations Treaty Making in B.C.

I’ve wondered about this too. My own experience as a consultant in British Columbia’s ‘aboriginal industry’ — I was once constantly worried about the next project — showed me that soft government money often encouraged a greater concern for future work than for the work that was on the table. Generating new work, often out of old, was a necessity in the consulting world.

Penikett’s point is slightly different. He is suggesting that treaty negotiators in both the government and in native communities would rather negotiate stop-gap measures than a treaty because the pay dries up when a treaty is done. In effect, treaty negotiators fear negotiating themselves out of work. Maybe, but I doubt it. The pace and volume of negotiations will key government negotiators employed for years. In communities that settle treaties, there will always be a demand for experienced politicians and leaders.

The Vancouver Sun article also summarizes what Penikett thinks is needed to get the BC Treaty Process going again. The most intriguing points:

Work toward a simple document — 12 pages or so … [and] leave the myriad details for appendices that can be hammered out later.

Hire professional negotiators — top closers, not bureaucrats — and pay them for success when they close a deal.

Stop using an endless series of interim measures as an excuse not to settle.

There’s more in the article. I hope to speak more to Penikett’s book when I get a copy.

(Via Protecting Knowledge Yahoo Group)

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2 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] The Province prints an editorial today (or here) identifying problems with the BC Treaty Process. Among them is the lack of incentive for First Nations (and the associated treaty-industry) to settle; there is too much money to be made by endless negotiations. The Province proposes a bonus system similar to that which the BC Government has used in contract negotiations with unions. (This idea was raised by former Yukon Premier Tony Penikett last fall.) […]

  2. […] heard this before. But, as contemporary BC history — court decisions like Calder, Sparrow, Delgamuukw, and […]