Rainforest negotiator sees path to politics

Dallas Smith, founding negotiator of the Great Bear Rainforest agreement, running against NDP's Claire Trevena in North Island

One of B.C.’s toughest aboriginal critics during the decade-long negotiations for preservation of the Great Bear Rainforest on the B.C. coast has turned his attention to provincial politics.

Dallas Smith has been outspoken in his role as president of the Nanwakolas Council representing six aboriginal communities on northern Vancouver Island and the adjacent coastline. He pushed back against Greenpeace and other environmental groups on the right to harvest timber, and with the B.C. government over aboriginal control of traditional territories and the size and shape of protected areas.

With the Great Bear Rainforest agreement enshrined in law this spring, Smith announced this week he will run for the B.C. Liberal Party in the constituency of North Island, where NDP MLA Claire Trevena is seeking a fourth term in the B.C. legislature.

Premier Christy Clark introduced Smith as the party candidate in a video posted on the B.C. Liberal Party Twitter feed this week. She said he will be acclaimed at a nomination meeting Oct. 29.

Smith spoke out again when the final Great Bear Rainforest deal was signed in Bella Bella, and announced at a ceremony at the B.C. legislature Feb. 1.

“My communities still aren’t better places to live yet,” Smith said. “But the relationships that we’ve built over the last 20 years have ensured that the next 20 years are going to be fruitful, full of economic prosperity and sustainable balance that we need.”