I am writing with regard to native land claims. There is only one just and fair way to settle native land claims. Ours is a democratic nation, and the matter must be addressed democratically.
The two main tenets of a democracy are, first, the informed will of the majority must prevail: and second, maximum freedom should accrue to the individual. These two principles suggest that the following process should be employed.
First, the public must be fully informed of the issue. To achieve this, a televised debate should be held, with proponents of all major concerns given the opportunity to share their views. Newspapers should fully and fairly report the results of this debate, with a simple format indicating arguments for and against each point of the treaty as put forth by the participants.
Next, a referendum should be held, in which the voters themselves register their support for the treaty. It is not the place of politicians to decide so essential a matter as land claims. Politicians are merely our hired representatives. Since when does the hired man give his boss the orders? In my 85 years on this planet, I have found there is one thing you can stake your life on: bribed politicians will never allow a referendum vote.
Let us hope integrity will prevail on this important issue. Should the results of such a referendum reject the treaty in question, the minority would still be free to make their own, nongovernmental arrangements to pay a mutually-agreed upon sum in recognition of the native claim. Interest rates would be arrived at by mutual consent, again guaranteeing maximum freedom to each individual.
It is only through an informed referendum that a democratic resolution of native land claims will be achieved. Any other process risks the minority imposing their will on the majority.
R. Selby Chilliwack
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