Manipulation continues in British Colombia

Manipulation continues in British Colombia

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John Ahni Schertow
July 16, 2007
 

In recent months there have been major concerns with Nisgaa Treaty, Lheidli Tenneh Treaty, and Tsawwassen Treaty. Each of these are in their own right threatening to the respective Nations (regardless of anything that speaks to the contrary. The presence of good does not mean the absence of bad.) — but it’s not just the treaties which are a concern.

There’s also concern with what the proponents of these treaties are doing to have them ratified. They are using coercion, bribery, and deceit — effectively molesting the people so they can get their way.

Oh the proponents are more than willing to provide the potential for democracy — but only so as long as it’s advantageous to their interests. The moment democracy no longer “works” however, it’s tossed out faster than you can say “Canada.”

A video just posted on Wasase reiterates this. The video features Bertha Williams of the Tsawwassen First Nation, who recently wrote a letter to Prime Minister Harper and BC Premier Campbell in protest to what’s being done to have the Tsawwassen treaty forcefully ratified. (You can see the video here. )

If you would like to express your concerns about this, please feel free to send en email to the following addresses. If you find yourself short on words, I’m sure you could re-send Bertha’s letter (see below)

The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, P.C., M.P. Harper.S@parl.gc.ca

The Honourable Gordon Campbell, MLA premier@gov.bc.ca

Michael de Jong, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation Mike.deJong.MLA@leg.bc.ca

Jim Prentice, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development Prentice.J@parl.gc.ca

Tsawwassen First Nation info@tsawwassenfirstnation.com

BC Government Tsawwassen Treaty Propaganda

July 9, 2007

The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, P.C., M.P.
Prime Minister of Canada
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario

The Honourable Gordon Campbell, MLA
Premier of British Columbia
Parliament Buildings
Victoria, British Columbia

Dear Prime Minister Harper and Premier Campbell:

The vote on the Tsawwassen Treaty is set for July 25th. The likelihood of a fair vote is receding with every day that passes. I fear that the federal and provincial governments are attempting to subvert the Tsawwassen vote.

The federal and provincial governments lost the vote on the Prince George treaty. The people voted it down.

Please don’t make this about you and your governments. Your governments seem intent on using federal and provincial money to buy support so that this time you will not be embarrassed by another loss. The decision on the Treaty is something that longstanding members of the Tsawwassen Band must decide for themselves without interference from Ottawa and Victoria.

Please let us decide our future with out outside interference. Please don’t try to buy our vote just because you can. Longstanding Tsawwassen residents deserve better. We are Canadian citizens too. Please don’t treat us like the residents of a third world country desperate for food.

When you have federal or provincial referendums you ensure that funds are available for both Yes and No committees to campaign for or against the issue in question. There are strict rules forbidding governments from intervening one side or the other. In the upcoming vote on the Treaty all the federal and provincial money and resources has gone to those who support the treaty. If you and your governments actually respected us you would let us decide without trying to manipulate the vote.

In the old days you might have used a Hudson’s Bay blanket, some musket shot, a new suit for the cheif and a bit of rum. Not much has changed. Today’s Indian Agents simply have newer trinkets and nicer suits but they are still up to their old tricks.

Today it is free flights and hotels to bring votes from the United States and as far away as Ontario. The persons flown into vote at our general meeting on July 7th actually outnumbered the number of Tsawwassen residents who voted. It worked. You were able to overturn the decision of voters at the recent band election where voters had voted down changes on who can vote in band elections and on the treaty ratification vote set for July 25th. At Saturday’s meeting the fly-ins outnumbered local residents and overturned the vote on membership. Now with less than two weeks before the vote on the treaty the rules on band membership are being radically changed in an effort win the vote.

Recently, I learned about the hundreds of thousands of dollars that the federal and provincial governments have made available to manipulate the vote to favour the Yes side.

It turns out that you are funding communication consultants to promote the Yes vote, the same people you use as communication advisors on federal and provincial elections. We don’t need your slick-tongued election-consultants to run a campaign of voter manipulation and fraud. Keep that stuff in Ottawa and Victoria. We don’t need or want them in our community.

On Saturday it was announced that a Yes vote will mean that every band member 60 or over will immediately receive $15,000, younger members will receive a lesser amount. No one need wait until the treaty is actually implemented. It will be money in every pocket immediately following a successful Yes vote. That sounds mighty tempting.

That is not the end of it. Forty band members are to be flown to northern British Columbia to visit the Nis’ga. Everything is to be paid for. The Department of Indian Affairs which is legally responsible for keeping a list of eligible band members reports that we have only about 160 band members who live in Tsawwassen. An all expenses paid trip to the Northern B.C. for 40 band members seems intended for one thing and one thing alone – an attempt to manipulate voter and votes.

Added to that the number of persons who are already on the band payroll and we have few band members who do not have a direct financial interest in the outcome of the vote.

According to the recent budget meeting the budget for this year is nearly $7 million. That sounds like a fair amount of pocket change for the Chief and her friends to dole out. It includes a treaty communication budget of $430,000.

Mr. Prime Minister and Premier Campbell if you have $7 million dollars for members of the Tsawwassen band, why not divide it equally amongst the local residents and give it to each of us directly rather than as a loot bag to enable the Chief and her cronies to buy our support?

The Gomery Inquiry confirms that the federal government employed some of the same tactics in the last Quebec referendum. Prime Minister Harper please do not repeat the errors of the Chretien government in the Quebec referendum in this referendum on the Tsawwassen Treaty.

Gentlemen you have endangered a fair and honest vote on the treaty.

Is protecting your multi-million dollar treaty scheme really more important than allowing individual Tsawwassen residents to decide? Do you think we cannot be trusted to decide our own fate?

Do you see the Tsawwassen Treaty as so flawed and so against the interests of Tsawwassen residents that you must send in your own election consultants with bags of money to buy votes to manipulate the voters list and win the July 25th referendum on the treaty?

Yours truly,

Bertha Williams
Longtime Resident and
Tsawwassen First Nation Member

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