John Hunter, lawyer for the government in the Peel case, says the issue is simple – that the First Nations have final say over what happens on settlement lands, and the Yukon government has final say over what happens on non-settlement lands. He says the government fulfilled the requirement to consult.
I went to the government’s so-called consultation, an open house where they presented their back-room developed plan. There were smiling bureaucrats nodding, jotting notes and handing out sticky-notes. Why did I get the feeling that all those heart-felt notes were headed for the shredder?
The feedback they received from the public resulted in no modifications to their proposal. That doesn’t fit my definition of consultation.
Consultation is what the Peel planning commission did for seven years. They listened to concerns from all sectors then hammered out a plan to accommodate and represent all interests. Well done!
As for Hunter’s comment that the issues in the case are simple, I would ask him to look beyond a few words on the many pages of documents involved. The Peel case is complex because there are legal and moral issues to be considered.
Often, legal and moral are the same thing. We refrain from killing and stealing and other dastardly behavior, because we know those things are wrong, not because they are against the law. The laws are there to codify the moral sensibilities most of us share.
But where is the moral sensibility in a governing party that a) has a bull-in-a-china-shop approach to governance even though they weren’t voted in by a majority of Yukoners, b) rejects the results of a valid and democratic planning process, c) insults their constituents by organizing a sham consultation, and d) hires a lawyer who looks at the surface of an issue and declares it simple rather than going for depth.
My hope is that, just as laws support our moral feelings about killing and stealing, that the law will support the open, responsible, democratic, respectful and, yes, moral plan developed by the Peel planning commission and give the government’s dastardly plan the boot.