Province stalling on signing agreement: Guujaaw

  • May. 18, 2005 7:00 a.m.

By Heidi Bevington–The Council of the Haida Nation has now signed the agreement with the province to end the Islands Spirit Rising protest, but the province has not signed and likely won’t until a new government is in place in Victoria.
CHN president Guujaaw said Monday that the province is stalling until after the election. “I’m not worried about it. All that’s going on is that they’re stalling. It won’t make any difference if it goes another day,” he said. It’s a convention that during an election, you don’t bind the incoming government to anything, according to the CHN president.
In Victoria, the province’s chief spokesperson on the issue was tight lipped. Don McDonald of the Ministry of Forests said he cannot say anything about this issue or the memorandum. “I have nothing to say at this time”, he told the Observer.
According to Guujaaw, the province is concerned that signing the agreement during the election could give industry an opportunity to challenge it.
“Industry will be kicking and screaming. They want to get all they can in the next couple of years,” he said. “None of them have a long term investment in the future of this land. All they are interested in is to get as much as they can in the next couple of years. If they can’t get it in timber, they’ll try to get it in compensation from the province.
Although the agreement will likely soon be signed, that doesn’t mean the checkpoints will come down immediately.
“The checkpoints will remain up a minimum of 30 days,” said Islands Spirit Rising communication rep Bob Mills.
“The government has 30 days to make things work with respect to the agreement,” said Mr. Mills. “If they do what they agreed to do, we will take the checkpoints down.”
The agreement includes reducing the amount of timber cut on the islands, revive the land use planning process in some form, give the Haida $5-million and temporarily protect fourteen areas the Haida consider important.