Vaughn Palmer: Elected Wet’suwet’en chiefs upset being excluded from negotiations

Article content continued

No small challenge when many of the elected leaders of the Wet’suwet’en have been left out, as Chief Luggi noted this week. “I don’t know how they are going to get ratification,” she told me.

In the legislature last week, Fraser did refer to how the province had recruited former federal NDP MP Nathan Cullen to “focus on engagement” around the Wet’suwet’en talks.

“He’s got lots of local knowledge,” said the minister. Cullen was the MP for the affected region until the last election.

Luggi says she had a recent conference call with Cullen and one of the hereditary chiefs, but that did not secure a role for the elected chiefs either.

Cullen is being paid $250 an hour by the province up to a maximum of $2,000 per day, Fraser told the house, adding: “His rates are at a reasonable average.”

To date, Cullen has been paid $87,805 in fees and $2,593 in expenses, the ministry told Rob Shaw of The Vancouver Sun.

The New Democrats also recruited another federal New Democrat, former MP Murray Rankin, to lend a helping hand with the Wet’suwet’en. Since he resigned his federal seat in June of last year, he has been paid $122,278.87 in fees and $6,696.73 in expenses.

So to recap: a $220,000 payout to two former federal New Democrats and the elected chiefs still remain opposed to the process.

Still, the ministry professed optimism. “Despite the challenges of the pandemic, we are making progress,” the statement continued.

“The MOU was the start of a negotiation process — we have a great deal of work ahead of us to determine how we will implement rights and title together. This is a complex negotiation, and everyone at the table is working hard on the way forward.”

Original Post