Yukon News

Government hid Peel numbers from public

Jacqueline Ronson Wednesday August 21, 2013

Ian Stewart/Yukon News


Protect-the-Peel supporters during a demonstration in March. Access to information requests have revealed that the Yukon government buried the numbers from a public consultation on the Peel plan.

The Yukon government deleted numbers from its report on the most recent public consultation on the Peel watershed land use plan.

According to documents obtained by the News under an access to information request, drafts of the “What We Heard” report included an appendix showing how many responses mentioned each of the themes discussed in the document.

These numbers were omitted from the final report released to the public.

In the first draft of the report delivered by the consultant to Energy Mines and Resources, 9,196 responses told the government to accept the final recommended plan, versus 187 that told the government to reject it. These responses came from both inside and outside of the Yukon.

Few responses indicated support for the new concepts and plans proposed by the government, compared with many expressing dismay at the government’s attempts to steer away from the recommendations of the planning commission.


“Numbers don’t matter”


Neither Premier Darrell Pasloski nor Energy Mines and Resources Minister Scott Kent responded to interview requests by press time, but Environment Minister Currie Dixon answered questions in an interview Tuesday afternoon.

He would not give a direct answer as to why the appendix was removed from the report before it was released to the public.

Instead, he said that the consultation was never intended to be a statistical analysis or referendum.

“I would reiterate that the numbers don’t matter,” said Dixon. “The relevancy of the numbers isn’t strong. What is important is the thoughtful and constructive input that we received.”

Also, the government posted all of the responses received during the consultation online at http://www.peelconsultation.ca  , he said.

“We have been nothing but forthcoming and open with this information.”


Little support for government plans


The numbers in first draft prepared by the consultant show little support for the government’s position, which is that the final recommended plan must be modified to allow more access for mining and oil and gas development.

Thousands of respondents mentioned support for the final recommended plan as a fair, balanced and reasonable compromise. Thousands also urged the government to respect treaties with First Nations and the consultation process.

On the other hand, 187 urged the government to reject the final recommended plan. That plan is neither balanced, nor fair, according to 323 of the responses. And 97 expressed support for the new concepts proposed by the government.

NDP Leader Liz Hanson said she was not surprised that the government deleted these numbers from the report released to the public.

“It certainly does reinforce that whole impression that this government has manipulated the process so badly.”

She worries that the government will allow itself to be guided by a small minority rather than the vast majority, she said.

“There’s so much at risk here, not just this particular plan, but it’s the viability of the land use planning process that governments have signed on to.”


Shifting numbers


Strangely, these numbers did not all stay the same as further drafts of the report were produced.

The News obtained, in addition the first draft, the final draft of the report previous to the version released to the public.

Here, while most of the themes have not changed, the numbers associated with the majority of them have. Some changed only slightly while others changed dramatically. Some went up while others went down.

While the count of responses urging the government to accept the final recommended plan did not change, the number associated with rejecting that plan more than doubled from 187 to 489.

The count for submissions calling for 100 per cent protection of the watershed also doubled, from 196 to 377.

The frequency of responses indicating that future land use planning has been undermined decreased from 363 to 129.

EMR official Manon Moreau said the changes resulted from refinements made to the definitions of the themes, which resulted in some submissions being added or subtracted to the count.

“It was a work in progress, so as he was refining the document, some of the categories collapsed, some were deleted and then those comments would have been moved into categories that were better suited, or better reflect what they were trying to get at.”

The changes to the document were made in consultation with EMR officials, she said.

The author was “trying to develop this document in the best way that he thought would work,” said Moreau.

“We as staff provided comments on whether or not a category could be better defined, those types of refinements.”


SEE THE FIRST DRAFT NUMBERS HERE: http://www.yukon-news.com/media/documents/firstdraft.pdf

SEE THE FINAL DRAFT NUMBERS HERE: http://www.yukon-news.com/media/documents/finaldraft.pdf


Proceed with caution


Because the consultation was not systematic and took in data from a variety of sources, all of the numbers should be interpreted with caution.

A single respondent could have provided input to the government through a variety of means, by visiting an open house, filling out the government’s feedback form and submitting an email response, for example.

Also, a great number of the responses came as form letters from interest groups, and these submissions likely had great effect on which themes appeared to be most prominent.

The draft report included a disclaimer to this effect.

“It is very important to remember that the consultation process was not structured as a survey or referendum and therefore the number of responses, regardless of their relative strength, cannot be inferred to mean that a majority of Yukoners or Canadians or some other group felt a certain way.”

While this is true, the numbers help to illustrate the substance of the consultation in a way that the themes listed alone could not.

In fact, the consultant spoke to the importance of carefully coding and counting the data in his proposal to the Yukon government for the work.

“This is a relatively slow and time consuming process, but it is one of the few effective ways of distilling tens of thousands of words into a few pages of meaningful data,” he wrote.

Curiously, while the numbers themselves were omitted from the final report, many of the disclaimer statements urging caution in interpreting the numbers were included.

“It is not a statistical analysis and the numbers associated with the various thematic summaries found throughout this document serve only descriptive purposes,” wrote the consultant in the final document released to the public.


Land use planning on hold


The process of approving a land use plan for the Peel watershed has hit more roadblocks and has taken longer than anyone anticipated.

The Peel Watershed Planning Commission was formed in October 2004, and delivered its final recommended plan in July 2011.

In February 2011 the government and First Nations agreed to an ambitious timeline that would have seen the plan approved by November 2011.

Last fall, the government set a deadline of March 25, 2013 to complete the final round of consultation with the four effected First Nation governments.

That consultation remains incomplete, with no word on when it may be wrapped up.

The First Nations, which originally asked for 100 per cent protection, say they are unwilling to compromise more than what has already been achieved by the final recommended plan. And the Yukon government insists that the plan must support more access for development.

When asked if the final recommended plan was still an option on the table, Minister Dixon said, “We have been pretty clear that we think the final recommended plan should be modified.”

He would not say when the First Nation consultations might wrap up, or when we might see an approved plan for the Peel watershed.

NDP Leader Liz Hanson said the government should accept that the public and First Nations have spoken and approve the final recommended plan so that they can get on with land use planning elsewhere in the territory.

“It would be nice to think that the government actually said, ‘OK fine, we need to get on with life in the Yukon, and one of the ways of doing that for all of us would be to fulfill our commitments and accept this plan, and then let’s get on with the rest of them.’ I kind of like to live in a Pollyanna world some days, you know?”

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

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North 22 wrote:
9:04am Tuesday September 3, 2013

Anyone pushing hard for hasty open access development in the Peel clearly has no understanding of how that would actually benefit Yukoners. Being conservative with development is the sound and economically responsible approach. Especially when only a small fraction of the money being made from our resources are actually going to our dinner tables. Why not protect our non-renewable resources we have and save them for future generations, than foolishly give the vast majority of the pie to international companies.

Patrick wrote:
6:44pm Monday September 2, 2013

I finally understand the Yukon Party and local politics.

If I can raise $25,000 to $30,000 per year for their party, perhaps about $125,000 during an election year, they will follow the Peel Planning Commissions Plan to a T.

I wish CPAWS and the YCS and all those eligible people who voted in the last election were told this ahead of time. This explains everything, this is how it works, and it is not a great deal of money for the protection that will be given this special area.

Rorex21 wrote:
4:27pm Wednesday August 28, 2013

The number are not reflective of anything.  The ONLY way to get a 100% guarnteed result for how Yukoner’s feel about development of the Peel is to have a referendum. 

These sort of polls are well known to cause misrepentations the result of non-random sampling. 

So in truth Mr. Dixon is right the numbers don’t matter especially when they include the votes of non-Yukoners. Its quite easy to shoot down any development when your so far away to realize any of the benefits.

But more than anything anyone who knows anything about politics knows that this consultation was more about identifiying the amount of blacklash the development would create then doing what the people want.  Its clear the backlash is well worth the development so don’t be surprised when they move ahead.

Elodie Dulac wrote:
4:10pm Saturday August 24, 2013

A clear vision of intention is what everyone needs to see and hear. The consistent battle that costs the Government is a terrible way to kick off a potential economic boom for the Yukon and it’s resources. (if it’s done right)
Secondly the on going bashing of the mining industry is getting old. It’s what founded the Yukon, and to this day is a major supporter of the Yukons local economy. It’s our past, present and future, regardless of what government is in. So it’s time to put your ‘save the planet’ signs down, and come up with resolutions not just rejections.

Adam wrote:
3:12pm Friday August 23, 2013

Consultation =/= Referendum

Majority Government = Democracy

What do you people not understand?

Sebastian wrote:
2:36pm Friday August 23, 2013

With all the resources of the Yukon Government and all the cash of the mining industry, the reject-the-Final-Recommended-Plan cabal still got spanked 9,000-200 (or 4,000-300)in the consultation. If I was in this government and a position so central to my platform was so soundly rejected, I would have been very embarrassed and I might have reconsidered my position-or, if I totally lacked shame and integrity, I might have tried to hide the numbers.

Stu Wallace wrote:
12:55pm Friday August 23, 2013

Actually, it is a numbers game. The majority of people who responded, whether they lived in Yukon or outside,  want to protect this area.

The numbers could have been included but I would bet that the public servants had their draft report edited and the elected officials had them removed. They removed the numbers, they subverted democracy, they accepted most of their political donations not from the average Yukoner, but from the mining industry. Its unfortunate that this is somehow lost in the spin from the government. And the donations were actually not a lot of money. People and groups that want to protect special aeas should perhaps be making political donations.

Max Mack wrote:
8:54pm Thursday August 22, 2013

Yukon News thinks that this is a race of some kind, and that all that matters are big numbers. Hardly a scientific OR democratic approach.

The consultation was designed to get feedback from Yukoners. It did just that. Yukoners views have been heard and represented in the report.

However, the consultation was not a vote. It was not a referendum. It was not even a random sample of the views of Yukon residents.

Groups and individuals lobbied very hard on this emotionally “hot button” issue to ensure that as many “save the Peel” comments could be recorded as possible. It is completely unfair (read “UNdemocratic”) for the Yukon News and others to attempt to turn this into a simple numbers game. I guess democracy to journalists simply means “may the best PR machine win.”

Brad wrote:
4:26pm Thursday August 22, 2013

His words are kind of being taken out of context.

The numbers don’t matter because the way they were collected and compiled was fundamentally flawed.

I’m not saying either side is right but these figure you are throwing out are essentially meaningless.

Karen wrote:
3:32pm Thursday August 22, 2013

Surprise!  Someone should have asked Dixon, if the numbers do not matter, why was it necessary to remove the appendix from the report? “We have been nothing but forthcoming and open with this information”.  Obviously your interpretation of “forthcoming” and “open”  differs from the majority of Canadians.  Are there any honest politicians in Ottawa?  Please stand up!  Prime Minister Harper’s party, stay seated!

flyingfur wrote:
2:48pm Thursday August 22, 2013

OK folks its time for all of us to man up and admit we voted this party in and stop bickering and moaning and complaining about a region most of us have never seen and probly will never see. I drive a car to work and unless you walk or bike, you are more or less like me so man up, like me, also.

Ian wrote:
10:39am Thursday August 22, 2013

Yeah, I agree what does China even want with our resources. It’s not like China is the fastest growing major economy in the world and has the world’s largest population with a burgeoning middle-class.


mary laker wrote:
9:55am Thursday August 22, 2013

Stephen Harper sees the Peel and the rest of the Yukon as a Canadian resource stockpile to be exploited, using Chinese money.  He does not care what 4,000 or 9,000 Yukoners have to say about it.  Darryl and his lieutenants are small potatos.  They had 187, or 400 people agreeing with them vs. 4,000 or 9,0000 against, but they still insist on pushing forward because ‘numbers do not matter’.  Why is this?

The only message here is that the Yukon Party and the Harper Cons have to be kicked out of this territory.  Neither gives a crp what Yukoners want.  Both are tied in with a vision from Harper’s Ottawa.

The Greens, NDP, and Liberals in the Yukon have to put away the little kid toys, and work together so they stop cutting each other’s throats at elections.  We cannot afford to give more ‘minority majorities’ to the Yukon Party and the Harper Cons.

Who is going to start a coalition of Yukoners that agree on some very important principles, and agree to pick ONE candidate per riding, the strongest candidate from among the three parties, Liberal, NDP and Green?

This is an idea which needs to be seriously considered and I am hearing more people saying the same thing.

James wrote:
11:51pm Wednesday August 21, 2013

The chinese are stealing our RESOURCES.

Stan Winter wrote:
7:45pm Wednesday August 21, 2013

“Thousands of respondents mentioned support for the final recommended plan as a fair, balanced and reasonable compromise. Thousands also urged the government to respect treaties with First Nations and the consultation process.

On the other hand, 187 urged the government to reject the final recommended plan.”

I think Mr. Kennedy must have been right. Our government is subverting the democratic process for an industry which made the majority of the campaign contributions to the Yukon Party . Did Mr. Kennedy have a viewpoint on campaign contributions?

This saddens me. Is it the way the world has to work. The Peel is ours, we want to protect it, that is what we said in the survey. The vast majority of people want to protect it but the government is planning to protect the interests of a small group of companies, many which staked nuisance claims, many which are not even based in Canada.

This has to be the subversion of democracy. This has to be something we can stop. This is a democratic country. The Yukon Party is acting like they have complete control over our land, this is misguided.


Randy Collins wrote:
7:26pm Wednesday August 21, 2013

It seems like we no longer live in a democracy. Governments do whatever they want to do, Senators get the taxpayer to pay for all their expenses, we can’t vote them out because the ones running against the Government are just as bad if not worse. I am wishing for a leader, but I don’t see one on the horizon. Where are the Ralph Klein’s, the Peter Longheed’s,  or the John Kennedy’s? What we need is a leader and all we have are egomaniac losers.

north_of_60 wrote:
6:04pm Wednesday August 21, 2013

Majority government are dictatorships with an expiry date; they don’t have to listen to anyone, and can do whatever they want; that’s how our system works.

If you don’t like what the government is doing then unite the opposition and elect people who share your views.

LRifkind wrote:
3:17pm Wednesday August 21, 2013

the numbers don’t matter. make that statement at election time. also typo: effected should be affected.

susan rogan wrote:
2:41pm Wednesday August 21, 2013

Currie Dixon, Brad Cathers and Daryl Pazloski were at Stephen Harper’s bbq on Sunday, Aug. 18.  At that bbq, PM Harper said that ‘resource development in the north is the future of the north, in fact resource development in the north is the future of Canada.’

He went on to say that the development that has happened so far in the Yukon ‘has only scratched the surface, and actually has barely even scratched the surface’.

This is the CPC view of how the Peel planning should proceed, and this is what the CPC has in mind for our territory.  They are thrilled at the thought of having magnitudes more of resource extraction going on in the Yukon and feel that so far, it has been nothing, not even a scratch on the surface.

PM Harper also said that Yukoners have painted the Yukon, ‘deep, conservative blue!’, by electing Ryan Leef (by 90 votes was it?  first conservative mp in 25 years), and Daryl Pazloski at the same time.

Get the picture?  We need to realize that the Yukon Party is working hand in hand with the Harper Conservatives.  They are not taking their marching orders from Yukoners, that much is obvious given the results of the polls on what people want in the Peel, vs. what the ‘Yukon Party’ intends to do.

This is not just a Yukon Party vision, it is coming straight from Stephen Harper.

I happen to disagree that selling out our resources to China, having a pittance for royalties, forcing the Canadian tax payer to build hundreds of millions of dollars worth of infrastructure to serve the resource industry (road to Tuk. Mayo B electrical lines, government research etc); then leaving the mess for Canadians to clean up, is not an economic positive for Canadians.

We need to develop our resources at our own pace, not having to rely on China to put up the money.  And yes, China is a big part of the plan for resource development in the north.  ‘Who else is going to put up the money?’ - something one of our politicians said to me at the bbq.

Enough said right now, but be aware that killing the Peel Plan is a goal that might be coming from the Conservative Party of Canada, not just our local movers and shakers (Brad, Daryl and Currie) in the Yukon Party.  The fight goes a lot further than that.

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