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Gordon Gibson on the William Decision

Gordon Gibson, former Federal and BC Liberal politician, offers his opinion on the consequences of the William (Tsilhqot’in) Decision. Gist:

[Appeals of the William Decision] will be as disruptive to the treaty process as was Delgamuukw 10 years ago. A court has suggested a major change in the balance of power so, for the moment, confusion reigns. From the Indian side of the table, why bargain about land if you can get the best parts through the courts?

Ultimately this will end up in the Supreme Court of Canada. It is a powerful, careful judgment, not to be ignored. Under our Constitution the Supremes can do anything they want in matters Indian. They make the law. So they could find B.C. will not be federalized after all, who knows? However, the private lands part of Judge Vickers’s decision will be harder to change as it directly flows from a previous Supreme Court judgment.

Ultimately the solution could be a constitutional amendment for British Columbia to clarify things. Such a constitutional amendment would likely pass since provincial jurisdiction and private property are basics of Canada.

And a rebuttal from Osgoode Hall Law Professor Kent McNeil:

Gordon Gibson’s article Laying Claim to British Columbia (Jan. 17) is inflammatory and irresponsible … his conclusion that private property in the province has been placed at risk is unjustified. No private landowners were parties to the action, so their property rights were not in jeopardy.

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