Thursday, February 13, 2020

Liberal leader Wilkinson points to past statements from Northwest NDP MLA's as working against the rule of law in British Columbia

Past comments from North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice,
seen above in the Legislature Wednesday, made for some of the narrative
for Opposition Leader Andrew Wilkinson's line of Questions for the Government 

A number of comments on Indigenous issues made by North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice during her days as an opposition member echoed again in the Legislature this week.

That as Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson called on NDP leader John Horgan to put some distance between himself and Ms. Rice's past commentary and opinions towards hereditary and elected Band Council governance

Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson and Skeena MLA Ellis Ross
had a number of questions for the Premier and his Ministers on Wednesday

In one of a number of questions for the Premier, Mr. Wilkinson took note of past statements from both MLA's Doug Donaldson and Jennifer Rice who currently is the Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Preparedness; observing how their words have served to encourage and support protesters in illegal blockades in the past.

Towards those themes, the Liberal leader observed the following:

It's no secret that the NDP have encouraged and supported protestors in illegal blockades in the past.

The now Minister of Forests, who sits behind the Premier, has said: "In the Wet'suwet'en governance system, the rightful Aboriginal title holders are the Hereditary Chiefs." 

A year ago, that minister visited the illegal camp to show his government's continued support for the Hereditary Chiefs, who were at the time obstructing permits and have recently been blocking a court-ordered injunction.

The Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Preparedness said: "The elected band council system is a colonial construct." 

So Premier, it's time to rise and make clear that the rule of law, as created by this institution, is the law of British Columbia and that the role of the government of the day is to enforce the law. 

So, Will the Premier stand here today and disavow the remarks from his Minister of Forests and his parliamentary secretary and stand by the rule of law?

Mr. Horgan deflected that criticism from the Liberal leader by noting how the Legislature had adopted the declaration on the rights of Indigenous Peoples in the fall and how that now will serve towards further dialogue.

All of us, unanimously, supported the declaration on the rights of Indigenous peoples just last fall, and those words need to mean something beyond just being on a piece of paper. That means honest, genuine dialogue with the different views in our province. 

 Leadership is not about directing people to get out of the way if we disagree with them. Leadership is about bringing people together to find a way forward. That's what we're all about on this side of the House.

When it comes to the themes of the Wet'suwet'en, the Opposition leader's commentary for the most part appears to have been composed from notes that were included in a recent column from the Vancouver Sun's Vaughn Palmer.

The highly regarded columnist highlighted some of the past commentary from the two Northwest MLA's and how those comments of a few years ago may have put in place the foundation for the storyline that is currently taking place in the Wet'suwet'en territory.

The Opposition leader's commentary set the tone for the contentious first session, with a number of Liberal MLA's taking their turn at the Premier and his Ministers, among them Skeena MLA Ellis Ross, who spoke to the recent appointment of Nathan Cullen to serve as a liaison between the Government and the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs.

Also on the mind of the Opposition leader on Wednesday, was to review the list of the current level of protest underway in the province and where they were affecting communities.

Among the themes that he explored was the blockade of the CN Rail line near Hazelton.

Well, there's no dispute in this House and in our society that peaceful, orderly dissent is part of our democracy. That's what the front lawn of the Legislature was designed and built for, and that's why it remains an open space through thick and thin. 

But British Columbians have limits on the right of protest. Closing the container terminal at Prince Rupert cost $100,000 a day in lost wages alone, let alone lost commerce and lost credibility.

As we noted earlier this week, since that blockade was put in place on Saturday, the stoppage of rail transit to the North Coast has effectively brought the movement at many terminals on the Prince Rupert Waterfront to a standstill.

Earlier this week, North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice made her first commentary on the situation found in the region, relaying her observations through a Facebook post to her social media stream.

The debate over the issues in the Wet'suwet'en territory and the ongoing protests being found across British Columbia have continued to make for the narrative of the day today in the Legislature.

You can explore the full question period from Wednesday by way of the Legislature's Question Period video here , the session gets underway at 2 PM mark.

Further notes on the work  of MLA's in the Legislature can be reviewed below:

North Coast


A wider overview of the provincial political scene can be explored from our political portal D'Arcy McGee.

To return to the most recent blog posting of the day, click here.

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