Don’t play dirty pool with the Peel

Don't play dirty pool with the Peel Krysta Meekin's commentary ("Peel away the hypocrisy, mining sustains your life," Nov. 16) is a mish-mash of innuendo, half-truths, distortions, and suppressed facts. Shocking, coming from a publisher. About the elec

Krysta Meekin’s commentary (“Peel away the hypocrisy, mining sustains your life,” Nov. 16) is a mish-mash of innuendo, half-truths, distortions, and suppressed facts. Shocking, coming from a publisher.

About the election: the Yukon Party did not make their position clear about the Peel. Leader Darryl Pasloski repeatedly declined to go on record, claiming it was “premature” before consultations.

Once elected, he quickly got over his scruples. Though now an elected government, it is important to recall that 60 per cent of the voters did not vote for the Yukon Party. The Yukon Party government is an artifact of a three-way vote split.

Moreover, this was a low-turnout election and the voting segment least represented was young voters – many of whom support the Peel plan and many of whom are out of the territory at school or travelling in the autumn. So claiming a “mandate” on the basis of only 40 per cent of a low-turnout vote is misleading and arrogant.

The Peel planning process involved six years of full and comprehensive public participation. All sectors of the public spoke freely, clearly, and openly. It is manifestly obvious where the bulk of public opinion lay and this was corroborated by a professionally conducted survey.

To state otherwise is either ignorance of the facts or wilfully ignoring them to push a point.

The Umbrella Final Agreement stipulates that planning is to be overseen by an independent commission appointed by the Yukon government and each affected First Nation. Each participating government must review and accept the appointments made by the other parties. In this process any conflict of interest, any lack of experience, or anything else objectionable about an appointee are identified and weeded out.

Shame on you for alleging “blatant conflicts of interest” among the commissioners.

One should expect a publisher to be informed, but you show little awareness of the rights and interests of First Nations under the UFA and its planning process. The UFA is the Yukon’s fundamental guarantee for a civil society with regular, understood access to lands and resources.

The First Nations relinquished title to some 97 per cent of their lands in exchange for title to a small fraction, cash and economic benefits, and the guarantee of effective co-operative management of public land. This is the law, it is not some affectation of people “grasping for straws.”

The UFA planning process clearly spells out that First Nations have interests and effective influence on the 97.3 per cent of the Peel watershed that they do not directly own. Although they did not achieve all that they desired in the final recommended plan, they are satisfied that the Peel planning commission struck a practical and fair balance between competing interests.

The wilderness advocates by no means “got it all,” and to describe the plan as rendering a “67,400 km landmass untouchable to future generations” shows that you either do not understand the document or that you prefer to misrepresent it.

The plan carefully preserves options for future generations. You and your kind would use up those options right away – to hell with future generations.

Your “want it all” viewpoint echoes the folly of the Yukon government. By essentially cheating on the process required by the UFA, the Yukon Party is propelling us (miners, environmentalists, workers, chamber of commerce members, First Nations and all) in to a legal challenge that will paralyze us until it is resolved. I was raised to honour the principle that “a deal is a deal.” Cheating on the UFA and pandering to unbridled greed will run our current prosperity onto the rocks.

Conrad Frieslander

Whitehorse