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MLA Olsen celebrates amendment to clarify Treaty rights in the Firearm Violence Prevention Act

March 18, 2021

VICTORIA, B.C. – The Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General has tabled an amendment to proposed legislation as a result of issues raised by Adam Olsen, B.C. Green MLA for Saanich-North and the Islands and a member of Tsartlip First Nation, earlier in the legislative session. The amendment to clause 5 of the Firearm Violence Prevention Act was passed today in the Legislature.

MLA Olsen raised the issue of the lack of government consultation with those who hold Aboriginal Title, Rights, and Treaty Rights, like the WSÁNEĆ, as required under the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People’s Act. The clause would have had potential impact on Douglas Treaty hunting rights, that has been well established in the jurisprudence over decades.

Minister Farnworth agreed to stand the clause of issue down last week. MLA Olsen suggested new language to clause 5, with the support of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, that refers to Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982

“I raise my hands to the Minister for doing this important work and acknowledge and appreciate his approach in the Legislature,” said MLA Olsen. “The Minister listened to and genuinely heard the concerns that I raised. I am impressed with the action the Minister has taken on this and for the serious contemplation of the impacts on Indigenous Rights and Title holders.”

“This is how our democracy should work. When concerns and legitimate issues are raised, the agenda of government isn’t more important than striving to get it right. Even if it’s not perfect, we’ve now improved this bill and it sets the stage for the next steps in continuing to do the right thing. This amendment highlights the need to adopt an anti-racist lens when law making, made more effective through true consultation with Indigenous Rights and Title holders.”

Background:

  • Clause 5 of Bill 4, the Firearm Violence Prevention Act, prescribed that “[a] person must not discharge a firearm in, on or from a vehicle or boat”. Prescribed exemptions for hunting may be made through regulation. 
  • On March 10th MLA Olsen stood and debated the potential impact of clause 5 on Douglas Treaty hunting rights.
  • Similar provisions in other Acts have been used to charge members of the WSÁNEĆ First Nations who were forced to defend their Treaty rights in court, such as the favourable Supreme Court of Canada ruling of R. v Morris (2006) for the Tsartlip’s treaty rights to hunt. 

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Media contact
JoJo Beattie   
Press Secretary
B.C. Green Caucus
+1 250-882-6187 | [email protected]

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