Archive for July, 2007

Bruce Strachan on Off-Reserve Voters

Thursday, July 12th, 2007

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In his column “Special Status Solves Nothing” in today’s Prince George Citizen, in which he claims, without the slightest evidence, that Lheidli T’enneh would have ratified the proposed treaty with Canada and British Columbia were it not for off-reserve votes, Bruce Strachan asks:

…name one other Canadian electorial jurisdiction where a resident of
another community has the special right to return home only at election time and cast a ballot

Okay, here’s a civics lesson for Mr. Strachan. In federal elections, Canadians resident abroad may vote by special ballot. In provincial elections, a resident of British Columbia who is temporarily outside the province may also vote by special ballot. See the Compendium of Election Administration in Canada. It is true that BC restricts the vote to those normally resident in the province. However, at the local level, BC also provides for non-resident property electors. If you live in one jurisdiction but own property in another, you may vote in both. This is a very explicit recognition that someone may live in one place but have ties to another that give him or her a sufficient stake in government to make it appropriate to vote there.

It turns out that, even without taking into account the special status of band membership, our electoral system provides close parallels to the practice of allowing off-reserve band members to vote.

Here’s another fact to consider. Most band members who live off-reserve live nearby. In the case of Lheidli T’enneh, most off-reserve members live in Prince George. These are not people who have voluntarily moved away from their home. They are people who are still living in their home community, but whose home has been chopped up and colonized by other people. The reserve represents a tiny fraction of Lheidli T’enneh territory. The reserve lands were deliberately located away from the resources of Prince George. The Lheidli T’enneh were deliberately pushed out of central Prince George to Shelley when the railroad came in in 1911. Many Lheidli T’enneh people simply cannot live on reserve because there isn’t enough housing for them.

Statement in Solidarity with Israeli Academics

Saturday, July 7th, 2007

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I have signed the following Statement in Solidarity with Israeli Academics,
and strongly urge you to do so:

We are academics, scholars, researchers and professionals of differing religious and political perspectives. We all agree that singling out Israelis for an academic boycott is wrong. To show our solidarity with our Israeli academics in this matter, we, the undersigned, hereby declare ourselves to be Israeli academics for purposes of any academic boycott. We will regard ourselves as Israeli academics and decline to participate in any activity from which Israeli academics are excluded.

Whatever your position on the situation in the Middle East, academic boycotts are a bad idea. They do nothing to improve the situation, affect people who may well not agree with the policies of their government, and interfere with what is often one of the few forms of peaceful communication between hostile groups.

Moreover, boycotts of Israel are extraordinarily selective. However imperfect Israel may be, it is still by far the freest and most democratic country in the Middle East and affords greater political rights to Arabs than any other country in the Middle East. Unlike other Middle Eastern countries, academic freedom prevails in Israel.
Israel has no interest in conquering its neighbors or in engaging in genocide, unlike many of its neighbors who are explicitly committed to the destruction of Israel and the elimination of the Jewish people, not to mention Baha’is, Christians, and those who belong to the wrong branch of Islam. To single out Israel is bizarre and reveals the motivation for such boycotts as, at best, ignorance, and more likely, anti-Semitism and/or opposition to freedom, democracy, and the values of the Enlightenment.