The Haida uprising creates major dilemmas for the Liberals

The continued uprising on Haida Gwaii is inspiring people in BC and across the world to fight back against unsustainable government policies and profit driven corporations. However, as reported in the Vancouver Sun it is unlikely to by a short battle.

Resolving this dispute will require the Crown to completely restructure its forestry policies. Resolving this dispute will require the Crown to devolve authority to local actors. Resolving this dispute will require the Crown to recognize Haida’s title. Co-jurisdiction may be the answer, but it is unlikely this government will endorse these changes.

Why? Because, to open the door for co-jurisdiction (or even sole-jurisdiction) for the Haida would set a precedent. Once it happened there, every other First Nations in BC would demand it as well. And BC governments are scared to give up that control. They are already facing off with other First Nations over jurisdictional issues (the Tahltan Elders, Hupacasath, Carrier Sekani, Dene, Tsawataineuk, West Moberly, Gitanyow, Bonaparte, St’at’imc etc.)

Another dilemma for the BC Crown is how to respond to the Haida uprising as they enter the election cycle. The uprising raises a number of difficult questions:

  1. Should they send in the RCMP, or troops, to inhibit revolt?
  2. Should they instruct the RCMP or troops to intervene before the election?

Each of these questions is problematic for the Liberals as they enter the election. If they send in the troops or RCMP this may have consequences with urban supporters who are more liberal on human rights, native issues. If they don’t this will alienate the rural law and order types.

As a coalition party that includes small l liberals, and former Socrets and reform types, it will be difficult for Campbell to satisfy all these constituencies at the same time.

The Haida Gwaii uprising could have a major consequences for First Nations and resource communities across the province. We’ll keep you posted as events develop

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