LETTERS: MLA Barnett is forgetting the constitution

This letter is a response to the January 16 “MLA Musings” piece


This letter is a response to the January 16 “MLA Musings” piece in the Williams Lake Tribune. Notwithstanding the provincial government’s handling of the Wet’suwet’en pipeline blockade earlier this month, I take issue with MLA Donna Barnett’s characterization of the illegality of the Indigenous activists’ blockade of the natural gas pipeline in B.C.’s northwest. The protests may challenge a recent provincial court ruling but they are not unconstitutional. After all, the Charter guarantees the freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly.

The BC Supreme Court ruling may have the impact of allowing the Coastal GasLink pipeline to move forward from a provincial perspective, but its failure to account for the consequences of the Supreme Court of Canada ruling, specifically the Delgamuukw v British Columbia SCC case (1997), justifies reasonable opposition. Delgamuukw established the authority of the hereditary chiefs in the Nation’s unceded territory. As legal scholar John Burrows has argued, these cases of Indigenous sovereignty, rooted in natural law, are essential parts of Canada’s legal and judicial fabric, creating our composite constitution.

READ MORE: A government of activists

The work of anthropologist Antonia Mills further corroborates the importance of the hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en as both legislative and judicial authorities in the Nation. Considering that the company planned infrastructure development on unceded lands, settler authorities would do well to consult with traditional Indigenous authorities in addition to the Indian Act band councils. As Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, has argued, band councils may have an electoral system behind them, but that does not derogate the need for free, prior, and informed consent from traditional Indigenous government representatives.

To suggest that activists’ constitutionally-guaranteed freedoms are contrary to the “rule of law” and the “economic progress of our province” is unadulterated sophistry. Who decided that those phrases meant blindly embracing without question an environmentally and financially questionable infrastructure project? We live in interesting times. Let’s not make them more interesting by forgetting the constitution, the supreme law of the land.

Joe Borsato

Williams Lake

Just Posted

City to insulate service lines along South Lakeside to prevent future freezing

Curt Morben Contracting’s bid approved by city council

RANCH MUSINGS: If I didn’t have some complaints, I wouldn’t be a rancher

This column tries to shed light on some aspects of ranching, while not being too technical

Art Walk provides artists with a chance to improve their craft

With over 40 artists in 40 business across downtown Williams Lake, it’s impacts are substantial

CCCDC hosts car seat safety workshop with Pregnancy Outreach

On Tuesday, Aug. 20 a workshop on the importance of car seat safety was offered for parents

PHOTOS: Tons of fun had by all at Boys and Girls Club Street Party

It was one of the most successful events they’ve held to date

VIDEO: B.C. woman meets biological mother, 38 years later

Mother never gave up hope of finding daughter, despite all the obstacles

B.C. Lions fall to 1-9 after 13-10 loss to Ticats

Lowly Leos have dropped six straight CFL contests

VIDEO: B.C. woman meets biological mother, 38 years later

Mother never gave up hope of finding daughter, despite all the obstacles

B.C. man who died after rescuing swimmer was known for helping others

Shaun Nugent described as a dad, a coach, a hero and ‘stand-up guy’ at celebration of life

B.C. RCMP plane chases fleeing helicopter as part of major cross-border drug bust

The helicopter eventually landed at a rural property near Chilliwack

Thousands cycle to conquer cancer

The 11th annual Ride to Conquer Cancer took place Saturday morning, Aug. 24 in Surrey, B.C.

PHOTOS: Brazil military begins operations to fight Amazon fires

Amazon fires have become a global issue, escalating tensions between Brazil and European countries

Racist confrontation in Richmond parking lot caught on camera

Woman can be heard yelling racial slurs, swear words at woman in apparent parking dispute

Groups ready campaign to help young voters identify ‘fake news’ in election

The media literacy campaign to focus on identifying misinformation and suspicious sources online

Most Read