Moving forward, uncomfortably

Alberta Party candidate Vincent Rain put it right out there at the candidates’ forum a couple of weeks ago. The only way to move forward with projects, he said (meaning big industrial stuff), is to do it via proper consultation with Indigenous groups. Period.

That was uncomfortable stuff for some in the audience.

“If that’s true, we’re doomed,” said one person later, commenting on Rain’s pronouncement.

But Rain, who seemed pretty credible and reasonable on the whole, was not throwing radical stuff out there just to provoke people. He’s standing on solid ground. Check out recent court decisions, he said. I’m telling the truth.

Rain also softened the impact by saying most First Nations don’t want a great deal. They just want to be respected. Exactly what that means remains to be seen. In some cases it could be something fairly simple. In others it won’t be easy, regardless of Rain’s sunny reassurance.

He’s right, though, in saying most First Nations aren’t necessarily opposed to industrial development. He didn’t say it, but part of the ‘respect’ he refers to will mean a bigger piece of the pie for them. That’s also inevitable. Whether it’s affordable in the current economic climate is another question.

There’s a reasonable way forward. It may be uncomfortable, but we just have to work at it and figure it out. How we approach it will make a difference in how long it takes and how painful it is.

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