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Part Two of Harcourt on the Treaty Process

Part Two of Vaughn Palmer’s conversation with Mike Harcourt is in today’s Vancouver Sun (or here). The slow pace of treaties has more to do with “wilful native ignorance” of the full meaning of recent court decisions than it does with resistance by the government. Gist:

Apart from the failure to grasp what the courts are actually saying, Harcourt believes another obstacle to treaty settlements arises from what he calls the “sovereigntist” native leaders.

“Their view is: ‘We still own B.C. You are at best tenants and at worst trespassers.'”

But that hardline position is not supportable in law or the judgment of the courts.

“Like it or not, the Crown has established its rights and title over the past 150 years and all those legal rights and title are in place,” Harcourt says. “Aboriginal rights and title and Crown usage coexist on the same territory.”

Those two obstructionist strains of thought — wilful ignorance of what the courts have been saying and the hardline sovereigntist position — encourage inaction among first nations that simply aren’t ready for full-scale treaty negotiation.

Palmer provides numerous quotes from recent court cases to support the assertion.

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