Northwest B.C. could benefit by the right federal cabinet minister

At stake is full participation in regional industrial development

QUICK. Who was the federal aboriginal affairs minister in the now-defeated Conservative government? Bernard Valcourt from New Brunswick who, on election night, lost his own seat.

That Mr. Valcourt never visited the northwest may speak to how his government viewed aboriginal affairs. This was the government, after all, which took more than two years to ratify treaty agreements in principle for the Kitsumkalum and Kitselas after their members did so by referendum.

Prime Minister-elect Justin Trudeau, by following through on his electoral success message of change and optimism, has the opportunity to do better in the northwest.

And that’s within the area of aboriginal involvement in industrial development.

It’s taken the prospect of a liquefied natural gas industry to open the eyes of all concerned that aboriginal participation in decision-making overall and specifically in areas such as skills training is vital for the future of the region.

Even if a natural gas industry does not happen or takes place on a much smaller scale than contemplated, a template of aboriginal inclusion for any other type of industrial development can only make the region stronger.

The new Prime Minister’s choice for aboriginal affairs minister and that person’s subsequent mandate would be a step in the right direction.

Editorial, The Terrace Standard, Oct. 28, 2015