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Tom Flanagan ‘a good fit’ for Squamish Nation

Academic with ‘concerning views’ advising First Nation on land development



He thinks colonialism was justified. He's said aboriginal government is "wasteful" and "destructive." He's been called a racist with antiquated views on Canada's First Peoples.

And now, he counts Sea to Sky's most prominent First Nation among his listeners.

His name is Tom Flanagan and he's known best as the national campaign manager for the Conservative Party of Canada when it came to power in the 2006 election. He has since become a regular commentator in outlets such as CTV, the Globe and Mail and the National Post , writing columns and offering analysis on political programs such as Question Period.

Corridor residents now know him as a consultant to the Squamish Nation in its attempts to develop reserve land in North Vancouver and the Sunshine Coast.

It's at his advice that the Squamish are now seeking their own property transfer tax that could put them on a level playing field with the real estate market.

The Squamish Nation sought Flanagan's help to develop 800,000 square feet of residential space at its Capilano reserve in North Vancouver, accompanying commercial space at the Park Royal Shopping Centre. Later developments will include a townhouse complex in Gibsons, as well as residences, offices and commercial space in Squamish and Vancouver's Kitsilano neighbourhood.

The First Nation contacted a consultant legal firm in Ottawa that knew Flanagan well, according to Squamish Nation Chief Gibby Jacob.

"They knew his views around economic development on First Nation land," he said. "They thought that because Mr. Flanagan is a Conservative that given this type of approach and his ties with the Conservatives would be a good fit for us."

Outside his political life, Flanagan has devoted decades of scholarly research to issues and events surrounding Canada's aboriginal peoples. In 1977 he co-edited a volume of poems by Louis Riel, the Métis activist and politician who led the Red River and Northwest Rebellions in the late 19 th century.

That work helped lay the foundation for the "Louis Riel Project," in which Flanagan and five others collected and published all the rebel's writings in 1985 to mark the centennial of the Northwest Rebellion.

Flanagan later turned his attention to First Nation land claims and self-government. In 2002 he published First Nations? Second Thoughts , a book that challenged what he called an "aboriginal orthodoxy" that emerged from the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, a commission convened in 1991 after the fallout over the Oka Crisis and the Meech Lake Accord.

The commission, meant to establish a new relationship between First Nations and the federal government, came up with recommendations to recognize a third-order aboriginal government alongside the feds and the provinces.

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