Federal Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan has joined the B.C. government and the B.C. Treaty Commission in expressing disappointment with the weekend postponement of a treaty ratification vote involving B.C.’s Tla’amin First Nation. The vote was put off Saturday after a group of protesters used their vehicles to block access to the polling station at the community near Powell River, about 130 kilometres northwest of Vancouver. “It is disappointing that the vote was disrupted due to these actions,” Duncan said in a statement Monday, using much more tempered language than his B.C. counterparts. “Our government believes that a person’s right to vote should not be denied, and we hope that community members use the democratic process to express their agreement or disagreement with the proposed treaty.”
Duncan’s B.C. counterpart, Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation Minister Mary Polak, and B.C. Treaty Commission chief commissioner Sophie Pierre both said protesters had “trampled” on voting rights. “This is not a First Nations issue. This is about democracy,” Polak said in a statement Saturday that described the vote as a “theft” of democratic rights.