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To clarify once again…

There has been some misunderstanding around the implications of a "yes" or "no" vote in the treaty principles referendum.

British Columbians have been asked whether the province should adopt principles to guide its participation in treaty negotiations. As a matter of law, the answer to the question on each principle is binding on the government if more than 50 per cent of the validly cast ballots vote the same way. Under the Referendum Act this means that the government is required to take steps that it "considers necessary or advisable to implement the results."

If a principle receives more "no" votes than "yes" votes, the province will not adopt that principle as a guide in treaty negotiations. In the event of a "no" vote result, the province would advance negotiating positions that are consistent with the provincial public interest without necessarily being linked to any particular principles.

The use of a binding principle to guide treaty negotiations does not pre-determine the outcome of the negotiations. There could be a variety of agreements that would be consistent with all of the principles. A "yes" vote does not mean that the government is legally prevented from considering possible exceptions to a principle. For example, in rare circumstances the expropriation of a parcel of private property may be the difference between reaching agreement or not, and the public interest in achieving certainty, finality and equality may require a limited exception to the principle against expropriation. In all cases the preferred course will be to seek agreements that are consistent with the principles. Ultimately, the voters will hold us to account for our own adherence to these principles. I believe we will make better progress with principles supported by a direct electoral mandate, than without them.

Spoiled ballots are not validly cast within the meaning of the Referendum Act and do not count as "no" votes for the purpose of determining the outcome of the referendum.

Geoff Plant

Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Treaty Negotiations

 

We have become frequent visitors to Whistler in the last few years and have always been impressed with the world class airport at Vancouver and the great facilities at Whistler both in winter and summer. The road link connecting the two is not up to the standard of either and your Opening remarks column about a proposed rail link in the April 5 edition of your publication prompted this letter.

We live in Hong Kong. While Hong Kong is about as different a place from Whistler as you can get, the highly developed integration of transport systems in place here could offer insight into the best ways to improve access to Whistler. Many visitors to Hong Kong will comment on the convenience, value and efficiency of the transport. This is the result of effective strategic planning to integrate air, rail, road and sea transport systems. A planned approach is essential for this integration to occur and I would suggest a similar methodology be adopted in looking for solutions to the transport issues between Whistler and Vancouver.

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