Bill S 6 undermines Yukon’s land claim deals

Liz Hanson Former Whitehorse city councillor Kirk Cameron recently wrote a surprising letter of support for Premier Darrell Pasloski and the federal Conservative government's unilateral changes to Yukon's Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act c

COMMENTARY

by Liz Hanson

Former Whitehorse city councillor Kirk Cameron recently wrote a surprising letter of support for Premier Darrell Pasloski and the federal Conservative government’s unilateral changes to Yukon’s Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act contained in Bill S-6.

Some of Cameron’s assertions are an eerie echo of public statements by Pasloski. For example, his recommendation that S-6 pass “as is” stands alongside the premier’s insistence that Yukon First Nation governments just “let it pass.” They think that somehow, maybe, after federal legislation is passed the Yukon and Canadian governments will then sit down with First Nation governments to see what sort of compromise can be reached.

This position ignores the fact that the amendments completely contradict the assessment board’s integrity as an arm’s length organization – an independence that was negotiated and agreed upon by the governments of Canada, Yukon and the Yukon First Nations.

Cameron’s suggestion echoes federal Liberal leader Justin Trudeau’s strange approach to Bill C-51, a highly criticized piece of legislation that he plans to vote for (even though he apparently doesn’t like it) and that he would change… if Canada makes him prime minister. This is not how Canadians govern.

At its core, Bill S-6 strikes at the heart of the compromises already made by Yukon First Nations when they negotiated Yukon’s final land claims and self-government agreements.

Pasloski and Cameron should remember that Yukon First Nations agreed to retain only 10 per cent of their traditional territories as settlement land with the express understanding that they would create a new relationship with the Yukon government based on the effective partnership and stewardship over land and resource management. The Yukon government agreed to public government bodies such as the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board, the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board and the Yukon Land Use Planning Council that would operate at arm’s length from any government and would provide independent advice and recommendations.

But that independence is under threat thanks to Bill S-6. As we feel the impact of Stephen Harper and Ryan Leef’s gutting of Canada’s environmental and regulatory regimes, it’s chilling to think that a Yukon premier would ask to have a federal minister give binding policy direction to an independent Yukon body that reviews the environmental and socio-economic impacts of proposed developments. It’s even scarier to think that the same federal minister can delegate that binding power over the arm’s length body to a Yukon government minister.

The Yukon Party is now clear about their intention to pursue fracking in Yukon. Bill S-6’s one-time assessments would eliminate new evaluations for project renewals and could mean that massive resource extraction projects are only assessed once despite the ongoing evolution of the project (think Faro). Imagine: a conventional gas project could become a fracking operation without an environmental assessment.

No, Kirk, the compromises have been made. It’s time to call off the Conservative-backed Yukon Party attack on Yukon’s final agreements. They are our agreements; we all benefit from the potential of strong, government-to-government relationships.

I am thankful as a Yukoner that our First Nation governments have demonstrated a commitment to upholding the integrity of the agreements entered into on behalf of us all.

Liz Hanson is leader of the Yukon NDP Opposition.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kimberly Armstrong, creator of Glimmer of Hope, poses for a photo with examples of toys for packages she is putting together. The care packages are for children who have suffered abuse, trauma, illness or sudden loss. (Kimberly Armstrong/Submitted)
Kids experiencing trauma will receive gifts from new charity

A Whitehorse woman is compiling care packages for children who have suffered… Continue reading

Commissioner of Yukon Anglique Bernard, in her role as Chancellor of the Order of Yukon, announced the 2020 Order of the Yukon inductees in a statement Dec. 2. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Order of Yukon inductees announced

Ten Yukoners will receive territory’s highest honour

The primary goal of the new relief package for tourism operators is to support the tourism sector, whether they’re private industry or not-for-profit organizations, said Tourism and Culture Minister Jeanie McLean. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Relief program offers funds for businesses that rely on tourists for more than half their revenue

Two new streams of funding, in addition to the accommodation relief program, were announced

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
YUKONOMIST: Climate emergency, lite edition

Back in September 2019, Whitehorse City Council declared a climate emergency, to… Continue reading

Yukon Employees’ Union says a lack of staff training and high turnover at the Whitehorse Emergency Shelter is creating a dangerous situation for underpaid workers. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon Employees’ Union says lack of training at emergency shelter leading to unsafe situations

Health and Social Services Minister Pauline Frost said the staffing policy “is evolving”

A sign outside the Yukon Inn Convention Centre indicates Yukoners can get a flu vaccine inside. As of Dec. 4, the vaccinations won’t be available at the convention centre. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Whitehorse Convention Centre ends flu vaccination service early

Flu vaccinations won’t be available at the Whitehorse Convention Centre after Dec.… Continue reading

In 1909, Joseph Kavetzki took over Brown’s Harness Shop, depicted here, reconstructed, 90 years later. Third Avenue in Dawson, south of Princess Street, was the heart of the blue collar industrial section of gold rush Dawson. (Michael Gates/Yukon News)
History Hunter: The Yukon is rich in hidden history

I had worked for a few months in my new position as… Continue reading

asdf
Today’s mailbox: Kindness, shingles and speed limits

Letters to the editor published Dec. 4, 2020

ASDF
COMMENTARY: Land use planning must include industry

Carl Schulze Special to the News This commentary is a response to… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Nominations continue to be open for Northern Tutchone members of the White River First Nation to run for councillors in the 2021 election. (Maura Forrest/Yukon News File)
White River First Nation to elect new chief and council

Nominations continue to be open for Northern Tutchone members of the White… Continue reading

The Town of Watson Lake has elected John Devries as a new councillor in a byelection held Dec. 3. (Wikimedia Commons)
Watson Lake elects new councillor

The Town of Watson Lake has elected John Devries as a new… Continue reading

The new Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation council elected Dec. 1. (Submitted)
Little Salmon Carmacks elects new chief, council

Nicole Tom elected chief of Little Salmon Carcmacks First Nation

Most Read