How Not to Have Honest Negotiations

Again, in the Caledonia land claim dispute, the rhetoric being used by the government ensures that honest negotiations will not be possible. So now, the use of land that is under dispute is being subjected to fee requests. One may even be justified in saying “demands”. Local MPP Toby Barrett, however, said recently:

From the beginning they have collected fees under duress…We define that as extortion.

It’s not extortion if the fees are part of a treaty. That’s an agreement. Duress does not extortion make. Duress is happening because the government side is refusing to believe that it might be wrong, and is operating on the assumption that the other side should put aside all demands, all interpretations of the issues, and wait to hear what they will be graciously given not because the government has to, but because we’re such nice people and they’re being so polite about it.

There is a treaty. A contract. The parties of the contract do not agree on the interpretation of the terms. If I have a disagreement with my employer about the terms of my contract, and I take that employer to court, demanding that he pay me the money that I think is owed to me under the contract, that’s not extortion, even if he’s under “duress”.

You can’t have an honest negotiation if you’re assuming you’re right to the extent that you won’t even admit that there is reason for this dispute. Just because your constituency, which you have allowed to continue to believe that there is no reason for this dispute, almost uniformly accepts your line does not make it true. Saying that you’re the calm, reasonable, detached party at the same time as you engage in heavy-handed tactics, pout and refuse to even begin to discuss the terms that you should be considering, the reference points that you should be using is a lesson plan for how to make sure things will never be resolved, barring capitulation to your bullying.

You can’t have an honest negotiation of you don’t believe the other side is operating as rational, mature, non-criminal members of society with the actual ability to read and interpret treaties that pertain to their lives. You can’t have an honest negotiation if you don’t believe you’re dealing with legitimate people. See how this works?


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