I am perplexed by the recent commentary by Yukon NDP Leader Liz Hanson, “Bill S-6 undermines Yukon’s land claim deals.”
I spent the full day at the March 30 hearing held by the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development on Bill S-6. I heard repeated messages from First Nations leadership calling for Canada to return to dialogue. I proposed in my March 31 letter to the chair of the standing committee a solution that could potentially lead to a compromise among the three parties: First Nations, the Yukon government and the Government of Canada.
Nowhere in that letter did I express support for the contentious provisions that appropriately alarm not just Yukon First Nations, but many other Yukoners such as myself.
My proposal is not the same as the solution that the premier proposed to the standing committee, as Ms. Hanson seems to suggest. My proposal allows the federal government to meet its objective of moving the amendments through Parliament before the fall general election, which seems to be a high priority of the federal government, yet provides an avenue for continued dialogue, as First Nations have requested, to come to terms with the outstanding four issues that, if not resolved somehow, will find the parties in yet another expensive and protracted journey through the courts.
There is an elegant legislative solution that has been used often to provide a timing “relief valve,” namely the use of a governor in council order to hold off bringing the contentious provisions into force and effect until solutions are worked through by the parties.
I think it is a reach to connect this proposal somehow to Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s positions relating to Bill C-51, and frankly it never occurred to me to think about the relationship between the two. It is unfortunate that individuals like Ms. Hanson try to warp ideas put forward by Yukoners in good conscience as somehow part of a political agenda, thereby tainting their value.
I thought there might be a useful solution to this issue and so I felt it useful to propose it. I’m doing so as a private citizen, not in any way driven by partisan objectives. And I’m pleased to say that I’ve received positive reception to my idea from many First Nation citizens.
Ms. Hanson, what I’m trying to do is assist in bringing about a solution that will help all Yukoners, whether they are from a First Nation or not. Your non-compromise, partisan-driven and positional attitude will get us nowhere but into increasing controversy pitting First Nations against territorial and federal governments. Where’s the value in that?