Reprinted from the ECOreport.
Such large segments of the province’s population have made their opposition to the proposed Site C Dam known, that this has become a defining moment of our “democracy.” Premier Christy Clark appears to be willfully ignoring the will of the people. She saw fit to put Vancouver’s $2.5 billion worth of transit improvements to a vote, so doesn’t a $9 Billion dam – whose need has not been demonstrated – merit the same direct democracy? If her government truly believes it is acting in the public’s interest, BC should hold a plebiscite on Site C.
Many voices oppose dam
To a large extent, the people appear to have made their opinion known.
- The Peace River Landowner Association has launched legal actions against this project in both provincial and federal court.
- Richard Bullock, who was Chair of the supposedly “independent” BC Agricultural Land Commission until the government fired him so they could put in someone more obedient to their bidding, will be one of the speakers at this year’s “Paddle for the Peace.”
- The Metro Vancouver board, which represents the majority of the province’s inhabitants, called for a two year moratorium on this project.
- The First Nations Leadership council – representing the three biggest provincial First Nations leadership groups – passed a resolution calling on the Federal and provincial governments to halt construction while these court cases are in progress.
- Treaty 8 First Nations are vehemently opposed to this project – having launched 6 legal challenges against it – as it would violate their treaty rights and flood or disrupt over 30,000 acres of their territory.
- Even the retired Chair of the Joint Review Panel for Site C, Harry Swain, has raised grave concerns about the project and process by which it is being pushed ahead.
Premier won’t let courts decide
Premier Clark is not willing to let the courts decide whether the government can legally break Treaty 8 and proceed with a project that many believe is against the public’s interest.
The recent press release announcing 24 “authorizations” for the project was accompanied by the hypocritical statement, “consultation with Treaty 8 First Nations began in August 2014 and concluded last month.”
Ms. Clark still has the option of taking this decision to the people with a plebiscite.
When push comes to shove
The people of BC also have a choice. We can either allow the government to proceed to trample the rights of its’ citizens or, hopefully in a non-violent manner, resist. Though Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, was speaking on behalf of First Nations in his recent press release, his comments apply to the democratic rights of all British Columbians:
[quote]If construction begins on Site C, it will be an obvious message that this government has deliberately ignored constitutionally protected Aboriginal Title, Rights, and Treaty Rights. The BC Government is hoping either Treaty 8 First Nations expend all of their energy and means to defend their territories in the courts or concede their rights for agreements that minimizes any benefits to Treaty 8 First Nations and absolves the government of any and all liabilities. UBCIC will always support Treaty 8 First Nations and if necessary I personally pledge that I will stand with the peoples of Treaty 8 and of the Peace Valley in front of bulldozers and dump trucks to prevent this project from proceeding.[/quote]