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.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

B.C. premier talks forestry, service needs with handful of northern mayors in Prince George

Prince George meeting completes premier’s tour of Kitimat, Terrace, Fort St. James and Quesnel

Indigenous LNG supporters chide human rights advocates over pipeline comments

Coastal GasLink has signed agreements with 20 elected First Nation councils along the pipeline’s 670-kilometre path

Expect delays between Terrace and Prince Rupert on Highway 16

Avalanche control work is planned between Legaic Rd and Frank St. for 136.8 km

Winter weather, burst pipes, destroys Cradles to Moccasins space

Prince Rupert’s North Coast Community Services looking for temporary space to house services

VIDEO: Nickelback gears up for nostalgia tour

Canadian band joins Stone Temple Pilots for a summer tour that includes just one stop in Canada

WEB POLL: Are you in favour of LNG exports from the North Coast?

AlaskCAN LNG recently announced their goal of building a $12 billion LNG… Continue reading

Province asks health-care staff to be ‘vigilant’ in screening for possible coronavirus cases

This comes after U.S. health officials confirmed a case of the virus in Washington State

Boy, 13, arrested after alleged assault involving girl at B.C. middle school

Boy alleged to have used ‘inappropriate levels of force’ to injure the girl

B.C. player becomes only second Canadian to enter Hall of Fame of Baseball

Walker received 76.6 percent of the Baseball Writers of America Association vote

PHOTOS: Heavy snowfall breaks window, causing avalanche into B.C. newsroom office

It was a chaotic start to the week for the Kitimat Northern Sentinel

Canadian law firm launches class action on behalf of Iran flight victims

Flight 752 was shot down by Iran shortly after take off

Mission Hill cellarman fired after mistakenly dumping $162K of wine down the drain

The former employee filed a grievance with the West Kelowna winery but was unsuccesful

Most Read