Elizabeth May: The Wet’suwet’en stand with the rule of law

Elizabeth May (Saanich—Gulf Islands) 2020-02-18 13:58

Mr. Speaker, I rise again today to speak to the Wet’suwet’en situation, and the crisis that is gripping the country and about which this evening we will have an emergency debate. The most useful thing that I can do in 60 seconds is quote from a letter that appeared in the national newspapers from one of my constituents, whom members will know.

Ron Wright, Massey lecturer and author of A Short History of Progress, notes in this letter that in writing his book, Stolen Continents, he spoke of the Oka crisis and he sees parallels. He stated that: …[like] the Mohawks, the Wet’suwet’en have never [lost] their ancient sovereignty as an independent people. Under international law, he added, there are only two ways to lose sovereignty: by armed conquest or by signing it away in treaty. Neither is the case here. He continued: Like the Mohawks, the Wet’suwet’en have an ancient system of self-government that predates European occupation and is still alive.

Finally, he concluded that the elected band councils set up under the Indian Act merely administer the small territories defined as reserves. It is clear that the rule of law in this case is not muddied and only on one side. The Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs also stand with the rule of law.