Open letter to the Yukon Party government:
You are about to make a decision about the Peel River watershed that will define not only your government’s values, morals and ethics, but who you each are as individuals. Your decision will speak volumes as to where you stand towards supporting a more sustainable world that protects not only vanishing wildlife and critical natural areas but the health of the planet and our well-being.
This is not just about the Peel – it is about recognizing the mistakes that we as a species have made in the last few generations and having the courage and long-term wisdom to stand up and take action to preserve one of the world’s finest treasures.
I implore you to be progressive and visionary and to support the commission’s final recommended plan for the Peel. This plan provides a fair approach to regional land-use planning by honouring public support for protection while still leaving some of the watershed open to paced industrial development.
The development of the Peel planning commission’s final recommended plan, released in 2011, demonstrates democracy in action whereby a consensus-based planning model was used to create it. This plan took six years of presentations, workshops and community meetings to develop, and it reflects the results of thorough consultation and careful consideration.
This document calls for 80 per cent protection. Public support for the commission’s plan is approximately 75 per cent, a huge majority. It is a document to be proud of.
Having paddled in the Peel watershed twice and travelled through it other times, I would prefer to see 100 per cent protection along with many other Canadians, including First Nations people. However, I need to respect the commission’s final plan and its decision to accommodate and compromise.
The critical question is: why has the Yukon government suddenly decided to shelve the commission’s plan and instead, put forth a completely new proposal they developed unilaterally, without the input of the commission, local First Nations, Yukoners, or Canadians at large?
This mockery of democracy, this lunacy, comes from a government that only received 40.4 per cent of the vote. As Canadians how can you possibility even contemplate this? In writing your own management plan, the Yukon government seems to be representing its own personal interests and not the voice of Yukoners.
The rat I smell is a big one – a masked rat that wears a cape with “industry” written on the back with promises of jobs and favours. A rat that appears to have infested itself within government.
We don’t want a plan that would allow roads, mining, and oil and gas development throughout our treasured Peel watershed. It is incumbent upon you, the Yukon government, to accept the final plan. To not do so damages the credibility of a healthy democracy, the backbone of our constitution and is unacceptable among Canadians. Failure to accept the final plan risks action against the government by Canadians and abroad.