Former aboriginal relations Minister George Abbott and Tsay Keh Dene Chief Dennis Izony walk along the shore of Williston Lake in February 2010

Abbott dumped as BC Treaty Commission head

Approved by the federal government and First Nations for the job, Abbott suspects Premier Christy Clark did him in

The B.C. cabinet has refused to appoint George Abbott as the next Chief Commissioner of the B.C. Treaty Commission, leaving the position vacant as of April 1.

Cabinet ministers were tight-lipped about the reason for the sudden reversal on appointing Abbott, who was approached about the job six months ago by Aboriginal Relations Minister John Rustad.

Rustad issued a statement saying only that a search will begin for a new appointee, emphasizing the “critical importance” of the Treaty Commission’s work towards dozens of unresolved land claims negotiations.

Health Minister Terry Lake told Kamloops This Week that he and his colleagues are bound by cabinet confidentiality on the reasons for the last-minute decision. Abbott’s appointment had already been approved by the federal government and the First Nations Summit, who share jurisdiction over the Treaty Commission with the province.

Outgoing Chief Commissioner Sophie Pierre, who agreed to a three-year extension of her term to keep the 20-year-old treaty talks moving ahead, praised Abbott as “a man of integrity, intelligence and extensive experience” who was prepared to make progress.

“This retraction of the Chief Commissioner selection after months of agreement, expectation and reliance by other parties, raises questions about B.C.’s commitment to the treaty negotiation process,” Pierre said.

In recent years, Pierre criticized the B.C. government’s emphasis on interim resource agreements to push mining and gas development. Fellow commissioner Dave Haggard has warned that abandoning the slow and costly treaty talks with Ottawa means going back to court on unresolved treaties.

The official silence over the sudden reversal has fuelled speculation by Abbott and others that it was due to Premier Christy Clark’s bitterness from the 2012 B.C. Liberal leadership contest, where Abbott finished third behind Clark and Kevin Falcon. Both Falcon and Abbott left politics after clashing repeatedly with Clark about the handling of the harmonized sales tax referendum and other issues.

Nearly all MLAs from former premier Gordon Campbell’s government endorsed either Falcon or Abbott in the leadership contest.

 

Just Posted

UPDATE: West Fraser to permanently reduce production in Quesnel, Fraser Lake

The move will affect 75 employees in Quesnel, 60 in Fraser Lake

Feedback sought on environmental impacts of New Gold’s proposed Blackwater Mine

Public is invited to comment in final round of consultation

Vanderhoof speed skater makes international debut

Alison Desmarais earned a bronze medal in her first short track speed skating World Cup

Column: the 4-H way of life

Local 4-H member Jacinta Meir on what being a member means to her

Local soccer player Sydney Kelly receives prestigious Premier’s Award

The 18-year-old trained with UNBC’s soccer team while in high school

People flocking to Vancouver Island city to see hundreds of sea lions

Each year the combination of Steller and California sea lions take over Cowichan Bay

Protesters confront Environment Minister in B.C.

Protesters wanting more for killer whales confront Catherine McKenna

Humans reshaping evolutionary history of species around the globe: paper

University of British Columbia researcher had the paper published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society

Toronto ‘carding’ activist Desmond Cole stopped by police in Vancouver

Cole says his experience reveals what daily life is like for black and Indigenous residents

Commercial trucks banned from left lane of Coquihalla

B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation has introduced a new program that hopes to prevent accidents and closures on the Coquihalla Highway.

B.C. on track to record same number of overdose deaths as last year

128 people died of overdoses in September, bringing the total to more than 1,100 so far in 2018

B.C. firefighters rescue horse stuck in mud

‘It happens more often than you’d think,’ says deputy chief

Canadians more prepared for weather disaster than financial one: poll

RBC recommends people check their bank app as often as the weather app

B.C. dog owner sues after pet killed in beaver trap

A Kamloops man is suing the operator of a trapline north of the city after his dog died

Most Read