Can Christy Clark broker a deal with B.C. First Nations?

UBCIC Grand Chief Stewart Phillip looks on as Christy Clark speaks at last year’s summit

Plus, Vancouver makes a low-tax pitch to the Greeks

In March, Christy Clark hit reset on relations with First Nations by (effectively) killing the treaty process. So what now?
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All Chiefs Gathering
Christy Clark and her cabinet will sit down with hundreds of aboriginal leaders to discuss every issue under the sun between First Nations and the province at an annual convene on Wednesday and Thursday. At the top of the list at the second annual All Chiefs Gathering: a proposed joint government-First Nations document aimed at reconciliation, according to Cheryl Casimer, a spokesperson for the First Nations Summit.

While last year’s summit concluded with agreement on a very broad set of shared principals, and many photos, this year’s meeting will give First Nations representatives a bit more of a chance to sit down one-on-one with ministers. “Our approach this year is to have more direct engagement between First Nations leaders, ministers and deputy ministers,” said Christy Clark in a statement. That means chiefs will get 15-minute sessions to meet with ministers and civil servants from health, education, transportation, aboriginal relations and the premier’s office. While the confab will touch on every aspect of the relationship between between First Nations and the province, the main goal is to hammer out an agreement that addresses the post-Tsilqhot’in legal landscape.

That Supreme Court decision, which added considerable clout to land claims by First Nations, was the catalyst for the government to organize its first summit last September. That meeting, while symbolically important, ended with little to show for, say observers. “If the chiefs and cabinet couldn’t even agree on a joint press statement, the parties are so far apart in any shared vision of how to proceed on aboriginal title that it jeopardizes the certainty of any business in B.C.”, wrote Judith Sayers, a former chief and expert on the treaty process, in a blog post following last year’s summit. “What’s at stake in this province? All the land and resources including water where First Nations can prove aboriginal title.”

Shipping news
Vancouver, a tax haven? Nope, this has nothing to do with real estate. A centre funded by the federal and provincial governments is touting Vancouver as a low-tax place for Greek shipowners to domicile their vessels if Greece changes its longtime friendly tax regime in the lead up to their September elections. The Vancouver International Maritime Centre is making the pitch at International Shipping Week in London, citing changes to the federal Income Tax Act as making the city an “incredibly competitive location for shipping and foreign companies” that can manage their international shipping businesses from Canada without their activities being subject to tax in Canada.” Elsewhere out on the water, a local union alleged Tuesday in court that non-Canadian crew members on tankers docked in the harbour are paid as little as $2 an hour. (via Province)

PNE visitor numbers
The windy and wet weather had a predictable toll on attendance at the PNE this year, sending it down 10 per cent below the 10-year average. While the first five days had the highest attendance numbers in a decade, a closure for one day due to power failures hit visitor numbers. In total, the fair clocked in 678,000 visitors. How does that compare historically? The fair drew 600,000 visitors in 1947, and further afield, 60,000 visitors over six days in its first incarnation in 1910.