Try as they might, Darrell Pasloski and the Yukon Party are not fooling anyone on the Peel Watershed issue.
The political organization, largely funded by the mining lobby, does not support the Peel planning commission recommendation that 80 per cent of the watershed should be granted interim protection.
It supports something less than that.
How much less? Well that’s the question, isn’t it?
And Pasloski doesn’t want to answer it. He doesn’t want to be pinned down.
Because on this issue, he can’t win.
If he protects too little, he’d anger a majority of Yukoners who want the Peel protected, possibly hobbling his party’s re-election bid.
And if he protected too much, he’d tick off the mining industry, a small voting block that carries a disproportionate amount of weight in the party’s decisions because of its deep pockets.
So, instead, he’s muttering incomprehensible arguments designed to sow confusion and avoid the question, “How much?”
It’s all a little baffling given the amount of work the Peel planning commission has devoted to the issue since being established in 2004.
A initial draft released in 2009 tilted toward resource developers. It recommended 59 per cent of the Peel region be withdrawn from development, and 37 per cent remain open to resource companies.
The tepid draft was roundly criticized by most stakeholders because it didn’t go far enough in its protection of the region, sparking a new round of consultation.
At the end of that prolonged consultation, the final report recommended 80 per cent of the region be withdrawn, and 19.4 per cent be available for development. That report took pains to ensure 80 per cent of the richest oil and gas plays were open to development.
The quartz mining claims and coal deposits fared less well in the final plan -Â they are, for the most part, unproven, difficult to extract and expensive to transport. That is, they are marginal. So they were sacrificed for the greater good.
And, unlike the draft, the final report was well received by most people.
The exception was the development lobby. And miners were particularly irked. They had, throughout the planning process, staked the region like mad, doubling the coverage of quartz claims in the region to 2,118 square kilometres in 2008 from 450 square kilometres in 2005.
Now those claims are at risk.
Why any miner would invest money in the Peel Watershed during a high-profile planning process is open to speculation, but that’s the situation we find ourselves in.
And so, the government scheduled a third round of consultations. They were supposed to be done by now, but, for reasons that have not been well explained, they never happened.
Still, that’s not important. Two full consultations have been carried out and there is a final plan on the table.
And everyone has endorsed it, except miners. And the Yukon Party.
Pasloski and his team are not fooling anyone. They favour development over protection.
How much do they want developed? Well, that’s the question.
The evasiveness is now hurting the party’s election campaign.
It would be far better for Pasloski to stop mincing words and tell people where he stands.
New Democrat Leader Liz Hanson put her cards on the table.
Liberal Leader Arthur Mitchell put his cards on the table.
They both manned up and staked their political future on conservation.
Leadership is about taking a stand on difficult issues.
Pasloski, in comparison, is dodging and weaving – trying to hide from the elephant in the room.
It’s a bit silly. Everyone knows where he stands.
He supports developing the region.
He should simply say how much of it and move on.