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Protest signs used at a rally in Vancouver, June 29, 2007. (LAURA LEYSHON/Laura Leyshon/ The Globe and Mail.)
Protest signs used at a rally in Vancouver, June 29, 2007. (LAURA LEYSHON/Laura Leyshon/ The Globe and Mail.)

Regional reports

Aboriginal affairs may move quickly up Clark's agenda Add to ...

Aboriginal affairs may quickly rise to the top of the agenda for British Columbia's next premier.

The Daily News in Kamloops raises the prospect of a long hot summer of native blockades. The Skeetchestn Band intends to "ramp things up with what they're calling service disruptions, beginning Mar. 7," the newspapers reports. The disruptions may interfere with access of roadways, railways and the Trans Canada Highway.

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The contentious issue is that West Fraser Timber, Teck Resources, BC Hydro, CN, CP, Spectra Energy, Pembina Pipeline and International Forest Products are operating on band land and traditional territory.

"We'd like them [the corporations]to come to the community, sit down and talk with us about impacts and benefit agreements," Mike Anderson, the band's natural resources manager, told The Daily News.







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Further North, Tsilhqot'in National Government tribal chair and Anaham Chief Joe Alphonse had the same message for businesses that plans to operate on their territory.

"If you're coming into the Chilcotin, you're going to work with us. If you choose to work against us, I guarantee you're not going to get anything approved.," Chief Alphonse told the Williams Lake Tribune.

He did not show much interest in Taseko's new proposal for development of the Prosperity Mine. "The attitude hadn't changed from previous attempts Taseko's made in the past, and we felt it didn't warrant us to sit down and meet with them," he said.

Conservative MP Dick Harris, who represents the riding of Cariboo Prince George, offered to help resolve outstanding issues between the company and the first nation, the newspaper reported. Although the Conservative government in Ottawa stopped the project, he expressed support for the revised plan and its benefits for the region.



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A raise in B.C.'s $8-dollar minimum wage could also be near the top of the agenda for Christy Clark. In anticipation of a change of BC Liberal leadership, the South Cariboo Chamber of Commerce conducted an online survey of its members to gauge opinions on whether the minimum wage should be increased, reported the Free Press in 100 House. The response was to be passed on to the BC Chamber of Commerce.

With 34 responses, the survey found 23 per cent did not want any change in the minimum wage, 35 per cent supported a one-time increase and 42 per cent favoured annual increases based on a clear and predictable formula. The results also showed an increase to $9-an-hour was supported by 32 per cent of respondents and $10 an hour had the support of 29 per cent.



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A few days before the Liberals picked the next premier, columnist Diana French, a former editor of the Williams Lake Tribune looked at the issues facing the winner and wondered why anyone would want the job. She thought it would be easier to be in opposition and criticize. She also drew attention to the lack of big ideas by any of the Liberal leadership contenders. But she decided it probably does not matter. Premier Gordon Campbell had plenty of big ideas but does anyone remember them, she wrote in the Tribune. And look at what is noticed: The sale of B.C. Rail and the HST. Neither of those issues were part of his stated plans, but he was elected three times, she wrote.



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As the Liberal race ends, the NDP contest is beginning to heat up. NDP leadership contender Mike Farnworth has proposed marketing rural B.C. to those who cannot afford the price of real estate in the Lower Mainland.

"You can have a very nice life in small-town B.C. and you don't have to spend, in the case of the Lower Mainland, I think the average price for a house is over $600,000," he told the Castlegar News, adding that the price of housing is higher in Burnaby and East Vancouver.

"That's just not affordable for people. And it's like, you know what? There are lots of parts of B.C. which are wonderful places to live and raise a family, which are very affordable," he said. He acknowledged that low real estate prices may not be enough to lure people from the Lower Mainland. Rural B.C. must provide jobs and adequate health services, he said. "I think that's an issue the province has got to address," he told the newspaper.



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Meanwhile in federal politics:



Conservative cabinet minister Lynne Velich came into the NDP riding of Skeena-Bulkley Valley to announce $593,000 in federal funding for new projects and did not tell the local NDP MP Nathan Cullen.

The money will go for improvements to the North Pacific Cannery Buildings, a 10-kilometre hiking trail between Metlakatla and Slippery Rock near Lax Kw'alaams, a saltwater aquarium and interpretive garden for Queen Charlotte's Visitors Centre, and an expansion to the boat launch in Bella Coola, reported The Northern View of Prince Rupert.

Mr. Cullen was not invited to, or notified of the funding announcement by Ms. Yelich or her staff, the newspaper reported. Nevertheless, Mr. Cullen did not appear to be offended. He applauded the announcement, saying he has been lobbying for years for funding for those projects, the newspaper reported.



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