Michael Gurstein on Tue, 16 Apr 2002 19:44:38 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> The British Columbia Aboriginal Rights Referendum

This below is the set of questions put out by "Elections BC", "a
non-partisan" Office of the Legislature of the Government of British
Columbia as a "referendum on the principles to guide the province's
approach to treaty negotiations with Canada and First Nations in British

My opinions on the issue of Aboriginal Rights and Treaties are complex and
beside the point, however, the complete lack of neutrality in this
appalling piece of rubbish is an embarrassment to any professional social
scientist (not to speak of anyone who believes in the democratic

Concerned citizens in British Columbia are boycotting the referendum or
planning to spoil their ballots.  I think it would not be untoward for
professional social scientists world wide to look to their organizations
to pass resolutions disavowing the contempt for democracy and for
professional methods of opinion gathering indicated by this effort and
condemning the Government of British Columbia for besmirching its
democratic traditions in this way.

Letters to the Premier and the local newspaper as below might also be
useful as indicating that such a complete lack of professionalism and ad
herence to the spirit of democracy shames BC before the entire world.

Michael Gurstein, Ph.D.
NYC and Vancouver BC


Whereas the Government of British Columbia is committed to negotiating
workable, affordable treaty settlements that will provide certainty,
finality and equality:

Do you agree that the Provincial Government should adopt the following
principles to guide its participation in treaty negotiations?

1. Private property should not be expropriated for treaty settlements.

2. The terms and conditions of leases and licenses should be respected; fair
compensation for unavoidable disruption of commercial interests should be
ensured.	Y	N

3. Hunting, fishing and recreational opportunities on Crown land should be
ensured for all British Columbians.							Y	N

4. Parks and protected areas should be maintained for the use and benefit of
all British Columbians.									Y	N

5. Province-wide standards of resource management and environmental
protection should continue to apply. 								Y	N

6. Aboriginal self-government should have the characteristics of local
government, with powers delegated from Canada and British Columbia.			Y	N

7. Treaties should include mechanisms for harmonizing land use planning
between Aboriginal governments and neighbouring local governments.

8. The existing tax exemptions for Aboriginal people should be phased out. Y

(Mark your choice for each statement by marking a X in the Yes or No box
beside question 1 to 8.)

Those who wish to comment on the above might want to send emails to

(Tel. 1-800-661-8683)

with copies to:

The Premier: premier@gov.bc.ca
The Vancouver Sun (newspaper) letters to the editor:


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