Independent media needs you. Join the Tyee.

The Hook: Political news, freshly caught

Bennett said treaty offer delayed to after election: negotiator

The chief negotiator for the Ktunaxa First Nation said B.C. Liberal Party cabinet minister Bill Bennett told her in March an offer from the government would be delayed until after the May 12 election.

“I did speak to Bill Bennett to ask him if he knew anything about it,” said Kathryn Teneese, who is also chair of the Ktunaxa Nation Council. “He said they didn't want it to become an election issue.”

Bennett is the incumbent MLA in Kootenay East, the constituency that includes the Ktunaxa First Nation. He did not respond to messages by posting time.

The Ktunaxa First Nation is in stage four of the treaty negotiation process working towards an agreement in principle.

“We're very close to receiving a land and cash offer,” said Garry Merkel, a negotiator for the Ktunaxa. The First Nation has been waiting for an offer from the government since January, he said. “When the election is over I expect we'll see one.”

The provincial government has generally looked for credit for advancing treaties and even floated reconciliation legislation that would have recognized Aboriginal title without needing it to be proved in court. At the same time, however, they put the brakes on making an offer to the Ktunaxa.

“It ultimately is a political process we're engaged in,” said Teneese. Offers and agreements don't go ahead without the approval of the provincial cabinet, she said, and elections and other political events have slowed the process in the past.

“Having it unresolved and sitting there is a cloud over our territory and the bulk of the province isn't good for anybody,” she said.

Bennett has been on the defensive during the campaign since a May 4 advertisement that said “You want someone who pays taxes and is concerned about how that money is being spent" was seen as an attack on his NDP opponent, Troy Sebastian, a member of the Ktunaxa First Nation.

Merkel said the Canadian government, also a party to treaty negotiations, has a firm position that tax exemptions would end as part of a treaty settlement.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

What have we missed? What do you think? We want to know. Comment below. Keep in mind:


  • Verify facts, debunk rumours
  • Add context and background
  • Spot typos and logical fallacies
  • Highlight reporting blind spots
  • Ignore trolls
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity
  • Connect with each other

Do not:

  • Use sexist, classist, racist or homophobic language
  • Libel or defame
  • Bully or troll
  • Troll patrol. Instead, flag suspect activity.
comments powered by Disqus