Canada | Opinion

Ellis Ross: Political leader in BC gets it wrong on aboriginal rights

"In a CBC interview May 30, B.C. Conservative party leader John Cummins confirmed that if he is elected premier the province would take the position that aboriginal title has been extinguished.

This type of thinking belongs to a long-gone age. In 1887, premier William Smithe commented that before the white man arrived aboriginals were "little better than wild animals that rove over the hills" and rejected the idea that B.C.'s aboriginal people had aboriginal title.

Not only does Cummins have a shallow understanding of case law, his statement contradicts Canada's Constitution, which recognizes and affirms the rights of aboriginal nations. In fact, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled unanimously that "since aboriginal title was a common law right whose existence was recognized well before 1982 - s. 35(1) has constitutionalized it in its full form." In other words, our title was never extinguished."

Get the Story:
Ellis Ross: Building bridges with first nations works for all (The Vancouver Sun 6/15)

Earlier Story:
Prof says Cummins' views could cause chaos in B.C. (CBC 5/3)

Join the Conversation