"Reason is always a kind of brute force; those who appeal to the head rather than the heart, however pallid and polite, are necessarily men of violence. We speak of 'touching' a man's heart, but we can do nothing to his head but hit it." --G.K. Chesterton

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Essential fact is missing from Now story

Today's Coquitlam Now carries a front-page story headlined, "Kwikwetlem opposed to vote plan." The story describes how both Metro Vancouver and the Lower Mainland Local Government Association have voted in favour of a resolution asking the provincial government to pass legislation that would prevent residents of Indian reserves from voting in municipal elections.
The headline refers to the local Kwikwetlem band's negative reaction to the motions. The story also quotes my Coquitlam Council colleague, Selina Robinson, as saying she voted against the LMLGA motion because it came across as "a bit of bullying." She is further quoted, however, as admitting the current situation presents a problem. The story concludes with reaction quotes from PoCo Mayor Greg Moore.
Despite the several hundred words devoted to the story, one crucial fact is missing -- the reason Metro and the LMLGA supported the motion. It wasn't because local politicians want to deny Natives their rights; and it certainly wasn't because anyone was being mean-spirited or confrontational.
No, the motion springs from the very apparent injustice of the current situation. And that is that reserve residents, whether Native or not, pay no municipal property taxes, yet they still get to vote in civic elections. That's simply not right. And this fact should have been included in the Now story.
With reserve populations set to explode in the coming decades, because of enterprising band leaders' decisions to construct housing projects and the like on reserve lands, the injustice will only deepen.
I was proud to be part of the majority of LMLGA members who voted earlier this month in favour of justice and against the continuation of special privileges for reserve residents.
At the same time, I firmly believe that local governments, like the City of Coquitlam, have an obligation to continue dealing fairly with adjoining First Nations.Coquitlam certainly has a good record of doing that -- and has and will continue to provide services, on a contractual basis, to the Kwikwetlem.

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