Canadian land treaties would boost economy: study

Wed Nov 18, 2009 8:34pm EST
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Allan Dowd

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - Canada is missing an economic opportunity by not resolving long-standing aboriginal land claims on the Pacific Coast, according to a study released on Wednesday.

Treaties to settle issues such as control of mineral and logging rights would provide a C$10 billion ($9.5 billion) boost to the area's resource economy that has been hurt by uncertainty caused by the lack of agreements, the study said.

Negotiators for the government and aboriginal groups should recognize the economic benefit of resolving claims rooted in region's colonization, according to the British Columbia Treaty Commission, which authorized the study.

"This just makes too much sense (to ignore)," said Robert Phillips, a member of the commission that oversees the negotiations.

Each year that passes without treaties being competed cost the western Canadian province about C$1.5 billion ($1.43) in lost economic opportunity, according to the research by the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Unlike in much of the rest of Canada, British Columbia officials largely refused in the 1800s to negotiate with the region's aboriginal people. The current treaty process did not start until the 1990s.

The province and federal governments have had talks with more than 60 different native Indian bands and councils, but the pace has been glacially slow with the first treaty taking some 15 years before finally being completed this year.

The issues being negotiated include control of resources, self-government rights and compensation for lost land.   Continued...