As I read Ms. Patti McLeod’s letter concerning the work of the Select Committee Regarding the Risks and Benefits of Hydraulic Fracturing (the News, Nov. 8), I was pleased to note that the committee is making what appears to be a wide-ranging effort to meet with those who support fracking and those who oppose it.
According to Ms. McLeod, “facilitating an informed public dialogue is an important part of the (committee’s) mandate.” Apparently, this “public dialogue” will take the form of “a series of public proceedings” during which the committee “will hear presentations that will be open to the public.” The venue for these presentations will be the Yukon Legislative Assembly, “where the public and media are welcome to observe from the gallery.” Members of the public may “submit written questions to be read by committee members as time allows.”
Therein lies the rub.
How can these proceedings be termed a “public dialogue” when the public and the media are not allowed to speak, to pose questions, to demand answers about a decision that has life-altering, territory-wide ramifications? A dialogue is a conversation or an exchange. Yet Ms. McLeod’s proposal offers no opportunity for either.
As the public are we meant to be pacified by the fact that we can sit in the gallery of the legislative assembly and observe? Watch, but remain silent.
Many in our community have taken the time and made the effort to inform themselves about this issue. Their ability to participate in what should be a public discussion is curtailed by the formula laid out by Ms. McLeod. Passing a note to a committee member, which may or may not be acted upon, may or may not receive time to be aired, minimizes, to say the least, the opportunity for public participation.
Ms. McLeod’s dedication to the appearance of democracy without the opportunity to exercise it is either a willful attempt to stifle public discussion or a measure to prevent the voices of dissent from being heard. Her proposal has the guise of public involvement without running the risk of actually attaining the substance.
Correct this situation, Ms. McLeod. Allow for one or more of these presentations to take place in a public forum where audience members, your constituents and electors, may participate in a real public dialogue.