BC Treaty Referendum
THE MAIN EVENT
On April 2, British Columbia's Liberal Government called a
referendum on aboriginal treaties. The deadline for British
Columbians to return their ballots was May 15, 2002.
The referendum sought to establish principles that will guide the
BC government in future treaty negotiations with the province's
aboriginal peoples. The principles put forth by the
He Said, She Said
“The referendum has got less to do with democracy and more to do
with cheap politics and it will not unite this province to solve our
President of the Labour Federation.
- Private property should not be expropriated for treaty
- The terms and conditions of leases and licences should be
respected; fair compensation for unavoidable disruption of
commercial interests should be ensured.
- Hunting, fishing and recreational opportunities on Crown land
should be ensured for all British Columbians.
- Parks and protected areas should be maintained for the use and
benefit of all British Columbians.
- Province-wide standards of resource management and
environmental protection should continue to apply.
- Aboriginal self-government should have the characteristics of
local government, with powers delegated from Canada and British
- Treaties should include mechanisms for harmonizing land use
planning between Aboriginal governments and neighbouring local
- The existing tax exemptions for Aboriginal people should be
The referendum was a central part of the BC Liberal Party’s
platform during last year's election campaign. In that election, the
Liberal Party won 77 of 79 seats, bringing 10 years of NDP government
to an end. While in Opposition, the Liberal Party also attempted to
use the courts to block the recently signed Nisga’a Treaty.
Many BC First Nations have opposed the referendum. An alliance of
40 aboriginal groups has asked the BC Supreme Court to order a halt
to ballot counting. The alliance argues that the mail-in ballot is
unlawful and unconstitutional.
A variety of non-aboriginal groups have also publicly opposed the
referendum. This includes the federal government, labour groups,
environmental organizations, the Anglican Church, Jewish groups, and
women’s groups. Many of these groups are asking British Columbians
to boycott the referendum.
BC Premier Gordon Campbell rejected the criticisms. “I don't
understand why a referendum for the general public, including
aboriginal people, is wrong,” he said. “People will get a chance to
Read the Referendum Principles and their Explanations (PDF)
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Major Media Outlets
Get More Information at
the BC Government’s Treaty Negotiations Office Website
Check Out the Website of
the BC Referendum Office
Read BC Premier Campbell’s Letter on the Purpose of the Referendum
Learn More at the Website of the
First Nations Summit
Learn More at the Union of BC
Indian Chiefs’ Website
Read About Land Claims in British Columbia
Spotlight photo graciously provided by the
Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs
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