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Clark Gov’t Has ‘Virtually Neglected’ the People of BC, Say Indigenous Leaders

Decrying BC Liberal economy that only benefits ‘a few,’ Union of BC Indian Chiefs calls for ‘Anyone But Christy.’

By Andrew MacLeod 1 May 2017 | TheTyee.ca

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria and the author of A Better Place on Earth: The Search for Fairness in Super Unequal British Columbia (Harbour Publishing, 2015). Find him on Twitter or reach him here.

The Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs is launching an “Anyone But Christy” campaign encouraging people to vote for either NDP or Green Party candidates.

“The Clark government has virtually neglected the people of British Columbia in her obsessive pursuit of large scale resource development projects,” Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, the president of the UBCIC, said during a press conference in Vancouver Monday morning.

“The BC Liberal government doesn’t have the best interests of B.C. Indigenous people at heart,” Phillip said. “When Christy Clark took over the BC Liberal Party, she completely divorced herself from any serious engagement with Indigenous peoples, Indigenous issues, and completely became beholden to big oil, big industry.”

Phillip said the LNG facility proposed for Lelu Island near Prince Rupert that Clark has promoted would decimate sockeye salmon populations. He also criticized the Site C hydro dam as a “white elephant” make-work project that’s moving ahead even though there’s no market for the electricity it will produce.

Indigenous children are over represented in government foster care, and Phillip said, “Our children and families are literally dying, our children in care are dying.”

The three main parties completed questionnaires from the UBCIC on Indigenous issues, Phillip said. The BC Liberals promised few changes, he said. “Clearly the BC Liberal government came up short.”

The theme of the Green Party’s responses was that the party was willing to learn, he said. “The BC Greens’ responses revealed their lack of understanding of Indigenous interests, Indigenous rights and Indigenous issues.”

He said the NDP responses showed knowledge and understanding of the complexity of the issues facing Indigenous British Columbians. “The NDP responses to our questionnaire were the most comprehensive.”

Musqueam Nation member Cecilia Point said she usually avoids colonial politics, but it’s necessary to take a stand when children are dying in government care and industrial projects including the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion threaten the land, air and water people depend on.

“This economy is benefiting a few,” she said. “We need to get Ms. Clark out of government to save our very lives.”

Na'Moks, a hereditary chief of the Wet'suwet'en, said British Columbians need to vote for someone who can make a change. “If you don’t get out and vote, you have nothing to complain about,” he said.

Phillip noted there was little mention of Indigenous people or issues in either of the two leaders’ debates.  [Tyee]

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