Don’t bite the hand…

Don't bite the hand... Re Free Staking Must Change, April 22 Yukon News: The article written by James Munson caught my attention, not because of biased reporting or lack of research, but rather because of the inaccuracies in the statements attributed to

Re Free Staking Must Change, April 22 Yukon News:

The article written by James Munson caught my attention, not because of biased reporting or lack of research, but rather because of the inaccuracies in the statements attributed to a letter from the Peel Watershed Planning Committee.

First, the mandate of the Peel Watershed Planning Committee does not empower the committee to make sweeping land withdrawals without the consent of the government in power. They can make recommendations as to how land should be used, but they are not mandated to exclude one industry from using the land in favour of another.

Second, the committee is not mandated, or even allowed to pass judgment publicly on the merits of one industry or the negativity of another. Their actions, in this case, amount to the denial of the fact Canada has a resource-based economy and there is little sign of that situation changing any time soon.

Given the current economic climate, it is obvious we will be hewers of wood and drawers of water for some significant time to come.

Third, the committee is required under the Umbrella Final Agreement and the implementation agreement to fairly evaluate the needs of “all stakeholders” when making recommendations to the government in power. That certainly does not mean that the committee can promote societal values or personal agendas to the detriment of vitally important stakeholders within the Yukon population, just because those stakeholders have chosen to pursue careers in the mineral exploration industry.

There are many hundreds of Yukon families that depend upon mineral exploration to make their mortgage payments, feed themselves and ensure a proper education and a bright future for their children.

The notion an appointed committee can simply dash the hopes and aspirations of these families is, in any context, perverse and immoral.

Make no mistake in assessing the negative impact this land-use plan recommendation will have on the mineral exploration industry in the Yukon, the Yukon whose very essence and character is wrapped up completely within the “lure of Yukon gold”.

Make no mistake in coming to the realization that if this land-use plan goes ahead unchanged it will absolutely destroy the exploration industry in the Yukon.

No investor in his right mind would suggest putting effort and capital into a jurisdiction that would so cavalierly bite the hand that feeds it.

And finally, please make no mistake that if your career, your family or your business depends on mining and exploration in any way, this land-use plan will make an already difficult period in our territory’s history into a dark, cold, economic winter that will last for decades.

John Witham

Grizzly Valley, Yukon