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

GVPL staggers reopening of three more branches in Oak Bay, Saanich and Victoria

More Greater Victoria Library branches to reopen in August

Gaps in the system: Youth cope with homelessness in Greater Victoria

Four-part series will look at youth homelessness in the region

Museum asks British Columbians for COVID-19 nature observations

Royal BC Museum collects information as part of ongoing pandemic project

Oak Bay pool to reopen Aug. 17

Swimming, other activities return this month

Rolling the dice on the patina of old copper

At the Galleries: Summer days continue

53 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths cap off week of high infection rates in B.C.

Roughly 1,500 people are self-isolating because they either have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it

Missing teen visiting Courtenay found safe

She had last been seen going for a walk on Aug. 6

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

Fitness non-profit challenges citizens to invent a game to be physically active

The campaign was launched after a study showed only 4.8 per cent of children and youths in Canada met required standards of the 24-hour movement guidelines

Gene editing debate takes root with organic broccoli, new UBC research shows

Broccoli is one of the best-known vegetables with origins in this scientific haze

VIDEO: U.S. Air Force pilot does fly-by for B.C. son amid COVID border separation

Sky-high father-son visit plays out over White Rock Pier

3 Vancouver police officers test positive for COVID after responding to large party

Union president says other officers are self-isolating due to possible exposure

Vancouver Island team takes on wacky challenges of world’s largest scavenger hunt

Greatest International Scavenger Hunt taking place Aug. 1-8

New mothers with COVID-19 should still breastfeed: Canada’s top doctor

Dr. Theresa Tam made the recommendation during World Breastfeeding Awareness Week

Most Read