We are all here to stay, as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada said in the Delgamuukw decision. It is our hope that this discussion paper and the ideas it contains provide a starting point for New Brunswickers to think about how the pre-existence of aboriginal societies in the province can be reconciled with the need to conserve Crown land forests and sustain the communities that depend on its resources for their economic well-being.
There are no quick and easy solutions. However, the need to address an aboriginal right to cut trees on Crown land is entirely compatible with the need many New Brunswickers have expressed to put Crown land forest management on a more ecologically sustainable and equitable basis. These interests are not always compatible with those of the eight companies currently holding licenses to cut timber on Crown land, so the discussions and debates leading to a solution will be difficult for all concerned.
What is in the best interest of the common good is not necessarily in the best interest of private interests. In recent years, government has at times confused private interests with public interests. In pursuing a lasting reconciliation with the aboriginal societies in New Brunswick, government must make a clear distinction between the two.
If serving the common good can be held onto as the ultimate goal we are trying to reach, and the well-being of generations not yet borne figure prominently in our thinking, then we will arrive at a just and equitable approach to governing the use and management of Crown lands.
We look forward to discussing the ideas presented in communities throughout New Brunswick.