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

PHOTOS: Unique commencement ceremony as Chilliwack students graduate in small groups

It took five days for the high school to film all of its 370 graduates walking across the stage

Chilliwack RCMP offer tips to thwart car thieves

Summer is a busy season for thieves who profit stealing from cars left at parks and beaches

Chilliwack musician releases new song to raise money for music therapy charity

Kellen Saip’s song ‘We’re All In This Together’ will bring in funds for Music Heals

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

New platform allows readers to make a one-time or ongoing donation to support local journalism

Unity Christian’s Olivia Lounsbury commits to Camosun Chargers

The Chilliwack basketball standout makes the next-level leap to the PACWest squad this fall

B.C. records no new COVID-19 deaths for the first time in weeks

Good news comes despite 11 new test-positive cases in B.C. in the past 24 hours

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

New platform allows readers to make a one-time or ongoing donation to support local journalism

BC Corrections to expand list of eligible offenders for early release during pandemic

Non-violent offenders are being considered for early release through risk assessment process

Officials looking for answers after Abbotsford football star found dead in Sask. lake

Saskatchewan Health Authority looking into circumstances surrounding Samwel Uko’s hospital visit

Fraser Valley driver featured on ‘Highway Thru Hell’ TV show dies

Monkhouse died Sunday night of a heartattack, Jamie Davis towing confirmed

B.C. visitor centres get help with COVID-19 prevention measures

Destination B.C. gearing up for local, in-province tourism

Most Read