Questions surrounding reforms considered for management of B.C. forests received added complications with last week’s Supreme Court ruling on aboriginal title. It remains to be seen what this means for the report to government now due by Jim Snetsinger, former chief forester, on the proposed reforms considering volume based versus area-based tenure. This morning Vancouver Sun columnist Vaughn Palmer explores questions raised by the Court’s decision. See First Nations title decision makes B.C. forest policy a balancing act.
In quoting from the ruling: “ …If the Crown begins a project without consent prior to aboriginal title being established, it may be required to cancel the project upon establishment of the title if continuation of the project would be unjustifiably infringing. Similarly, if legislation was validly enacted before title was established, such legislation may be rendered inapplicable going forward to the extent that it unjustifiably infringes aboriginal title.”
In Palmer’s initial column concerning the Supreme Court ruling, he indicated it “may have every forest company and other holders of timber cutting rights wondering if they’ll soon be negotiating with a new landlord.”
“When I said we owned the place, lock, stock and barrel, nobody asked me, ‘Jimmy, what do you mean by that?’ Well it’s the beginning point of negotiations. That’s what it is. We own the whole thing. You want my land? Let’s negotiate.”
– Nisga’a Chief James Gosnell, some three decades ago