COLUMN: Democracies don’t always have to agree

In no democratic system of governance is there ever 100 per cent agreement on any issue

In Ottawa, the issue drawing the most debate are the illegal blockades in several areas around Canada, relating to the approval of the $6-billion, 670 kilometre proposed Coastal GasLink Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) pipeline.

The opposition of this pipeline project is by five Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and their supporters, both aboriginal and non-aboriginal, who believe this project should not proceed without the consent of the five chiefs in question.

On the other side of this proposed LNG project are the supporters.

In this case, all 20 First Nations along the route, represented by democratically elected chiefs and councils, have signed letters of support for the project.

These letters of support provide financial, employment and training benefits estimated at close to $1 billion to the aboriginal communities along the 670 km pipeline route.

READ ALSO: COLUMN: Passing legislation in a minority parliament

READ ALSO: COLUMN: Pre-clearance changes at Canadian airports

The debate has been focussed largely on the Prime Minister’s lack of any announced plan on how to deal with the blockades that could soon threaten both our economy and public safety.

Aside from economic interests, chemicals to treat domestic water systems, to de-ice planes so they can fly safely, in addition to propane to heat homes, food, as well as oil and gas, all depend on rail transport to reach Canadian destinations.

So where does the Liberal government stand?

Does it stand with the will of democratically elected chiefs and councils who represent the majority of aboriginals in this region who support this LNG project and the much needed benefits?

Or does the Liberal government stand with the minority of those who oppose this project, in many cases the same interests and activists who frequently oppose Canadian energy projects?

For many this is a complex issue that requires differing interpretations and definitions of the role of unelected Hereditary Chiefs as opposed to democratically elected chiefs and band councils.

Many point out the need for full reconciliation as a solution while others suggest the Indian Act needs to be abolished.

The Prime Minister has stated that “more dialogue” and “patience” is the solution.

From my perspective I feel it must be pointed out that in no democratic system of governance is there ever 100 per cent agreement on any issue.

I would submit that different perspectives and differing solutions that can be meaningfully debated is part of a healthy democracy.

However in this situation I am greatly concerned.

It would seem that some believe that having all 20 different First Nations communities along the route signing letters of support for this LNG project by democratically elected band council’s is not enough.

The activists and protestors seem to suggest that the five hereditary chiefs in opposition must also fully support this project or it should be cancelled.

In other words there is an expectation for 100 per cent agreement.

This is a threshold that I believe very few, if any, healthy democratic societies could ever hope to achieve.

First Nations are very diverse and it is completely understandable that some will support projects they believe are in the best interests of their community.

It is also understandable that others will oppose certain projects.

This is not unlike what we see with many B.C. municipalities who frequently take different positions on a variety of topics.

Listening to former chiefs, such as former Haisla Nation Chief Councillor Ellis Ross, I believe democratically elected chiefs and councils who support projects that can help lift their communities out of poverty must be respected by the democratic will of the community.

My question this week: Do you agree?

I can be reached at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or call toll free 1-800-665-8711.

Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan Similkameen Nicola. This riding includes the communities of Kelowna, West Kelowna, Peachland, Summerland, Keremeos, Princeton, Merritt and Logan Lake.

To report a typo, email:
news@summerlandreview.com
.



news@summerlandreview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Column

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Evacuation alert for homes near Dry Lake fire rescinded

Fire status changed to Under Control, crews remain on site patrolling and extinguishing hot spots

Morning Start: The human body contains trace amounts of gold

Your morning start for Friday, August 7, 2020

COLUMN: Listen to those who know about COVID-19

Accurate information is essential when understanding the pandemic

Penticton man wakes to wildfire, forced to evacuate from home

A wildfire sparked off the side of Highway 97 near Penticton on Thursday

Roots & Blues announces ticket giveaway ahead of online festival

The festival is streaming free online this year, but those who pre-register can win passes for 2021.

371 British Columbians battling COVID-19, health officials confirm

Thursday (Aug. 6) saw a second straight day of nearly 50 new confirmed cases

Fundraiser launched for West Kelowna family who lost their home to fire

The family’s Sunview Drive home was destroyed after an accidental fire on Aug. 6

B.C. wildfire crews have battled 111 blazes in the last seven days

Twenty-nine fires remain active, as of Friday (Aug 7)

B.C. health minister applauds Kelowna Mayor, council for COVID-19 outbreak response

‘I think they are a model of how we respond’ - said Health Minister Adrian Dix

T-Rex earns big bids at B.C. dino auction

Over 500 dino-themed lots sold to buyers from across North America

‘We don’t make the rules’: Okanagan pub owner says staff harassed over pandemic precautions

‘If you have six people plus a baby, guess what? That’s seven’ - West Kelowna Kelly O’Bryan’s owner

Remembering Brent Carver: A legend of Broadway who kept his B.C. roots strong

Over the years, the Cranbrook thespian earned his place as one of Canada’s greatest actors

Vernon social justice group rallies to raise awareness for human trafficking victims

Indigenous women make up 4 per cent of Canadian population, 50 per cent of trafficking victims

Statistics Canada says country gained 419,000 jobs in July

National unemployment rate was 10.9 per cent in July, down from the 12.3 per cent recorded in June

Most Read