Skeena MLA Ross says UN has no business lecturing Canada on aboriginal issues

John Crawford

Skeena M.L.A. Ellis Ross says the United Nations has no business telling B.C. how to handle aboriginal relations -- and should stay out of the showdown between the Wet'suwet'en Hereditary Chiefs and Coastal GasLink.
The Wet'suwet'en Hereditary Chiefs have warned that the United Nations is watching, as they continue to insist projects like the Coastal GasLink pipeline require their consent before going ahead.
They point to last fall's ceremony in the B.C. Legislature, during which John Horgan's N.D.P. government became the first in Canada to introduce a bill to enshrine the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples into law.
In December, the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination called on the Canadian government to cancel Coastal GasLink and two other projects, until proper consultation is done and consent is given.
But Skeena Liberal M.L.A. Ellis Ross says the U.N.'s attitude is condescending towards the First Nations who have signed onto the project.

"They've completely ignored why these band councils did what they did in the first place, which was trying to alleviate poverty, trying to find something as an alternative to the Indian Act, and the pipeline was the first opportunity to do it, and all these band councils have spent tremendous amounts of money, resources, and time investigating every single facet they could in terms of this project and that's completely getting ignored in social media, traditional media as well as with these different groups including the Human Rights Commissioner," he said.
On Monday, Premier Horgan told a news conference that the pipeline will go ahead, as the courts have already ruled in favour of Coastal GasLink's right to proceed, and while Ross appreciated those comments, he also said the Horgan government was partly to blame for the U.N.'s involvement.
"I can tell you right now it was Premier John Horgan and his government that invited this to be elevated to a higher level by introducing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples with no definition -- there's no definition!" he said.
While the N.D.P. have not responded to Ross's comments, Horgan did say last fall when the bill was introduced that there was no First Nations veto over the project.
"The word veto is not contained in the legislation nor is it contained in the UN Delaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples," Horgan said at the time.
Ross says it's very hard to predict what will happen next, but he expects the impasse to continue and he hopes no matter what happens, no one gets hurt in the process.

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