NDP Minister Names RCMP "Central Player" in Gustafsen Crisis
BC's NDP Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs Andrew Petter named the RCMP the "central player" in the 1995 Gustafsen Lake affair. Petter also deflected responsibility for any public inquiry into the 1995 crisis to the federal government of Canada. "The RCMP was probably the central player," said the BC minister. "The provinces do not have the authority to make Inquiries into the conduct of the RCMP. If there were to be such an inquiry it would come more from the federal government."
The Gustafsen issue was raised during a taping for CFUV FM 102, the University of Victoria's radio station, during an interview Thursday regarding tuition funding and appeared to catch the minister off guard. The former Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and current Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs was the first provincial minister to break the silence on the Gustafsen matter and the growing call for a public inquiry. However he avoided the issue of the BC NDP government's central role in the 1995 armed siege of Shuswap traditionalists, the largest paramilitary operation in Canadian history.
"I guess I'm just not in a position where I would want to comment. This is a pretty controversial issue. The Attorney General of the Province is closer to it than I am. I don't like to duck questions," said Petter, "but I think at this point I will."
Conversely, Solicitor General of Canada Andy Scott, the federal minister responsible for the RCMP, has said that questions regarding Gustafsen Lake should be directed at the province of BC. In a Dec. 5, 1997 reply to a letter which expressed outrage at the Gustafsen affair, Scott wrote, "the administration of justice is within the jurisdiction of provincial governments... These matters do not fall within the jurisdiction of the Solicitor General of Canada."
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