Canada | Opinion

Opinion: First Nations aren't standing in the way of development





Writer disputes claim that Native land rights and claims are hindering energy development across Canada:
Over 40 per cent of Canada’s land mass is covered by modern aboriginal land claims. In those places, resource extraction – think Nunavut, Yukon, parts of the Northwest Territories and Quebec – isn’t collapsing because of the agreements with the aboriginal peoples who live there. It’s happening. A lot.

In other parts of the country where either outstanding claims exist or where aboriginal communities who signed treaties a century ago are demanding the status quo interpretation of those treaties be revisited, the federal and provincial governments are moving to acquiesce to those demands more than they are openly suggesting they should be ignored.

Ottawa’s reaction to the Northern Gateway debacle? Beef up its attention to treaty negotiations in British Columbia. Ontario’s reaction to the Ring of Fire play? Enter into an unprecedented economic co-operation agreement with First Nations in the region.

Just where in this picture are policy-makers seriously considering an end to entrenching aboriginal claims and instead asking the conversation to revolve around establishing private property rights instead?

For many mining executives, this reality is reflected in their concerns. More than several companies that are currently enmeshed in litigation across the country are calling for more precision and clarity on what aboriginal rights mean, not calling for their end.

Get the Story:
James Munson: Why privatizing First Nation resources is a really dumb idea (iPolitics 4/9)