Letter to the Editor

Fentie plays fast and loose with forests Open letter to Premier Dennis Fentie: I watched the Yukon government hold many consultations about the…

Fentie plays fast

and loose with forests

Open letter to Premier Dennis Fentie:

I watched the Yukon government hold many consultations about the Forest Resources Act for 10 years.

Many times, representatives from the various First Nations and the renewable resources councils gave of their private lives to guide the government in developing an act that would work for the communities who have marketable lumber and those who do not.

This Yukon of ours covers a huge diverse ecoregion and, because of that, the resources vary widely.

The biggest fear for those in northern Yukon is that the act would be mostly relevant to those in Watson Lake and Liard areas and possibly very detrimental to the areas farther north.

Now we have legislation being debated in the house that may not be good for the forests and timber industry even in the southern areas.

Now I ask, is chapter 17 of the Umbrella Final Agreement being ignored here?

Chapter 17.4.0 outlines the duties of the renewable resources councils to work with their First Nation and the Yukon government minister to develop a forest management plan for the traditional territory.

Why then would you set up a special committee to do this without the presence of the renewable resources councils included?

It is very clear to me that the party that does not want to co-operate in this Umbrella Final Agreement is the Yukon government.

Chapter 17.4.1 begins with: “A renewable resources council may make recommendations to the minister and the affected Yukon First Nation with respect to forest resources management on settlement land and nonsettlement land within that Yukon First Nation’s traditional territory, including:

17.4.1.1. the co-ordination of forest resources management throughout the Yukon and in the relevant traditional territory.

17.4.1.3. the policies, programs and legislation which affects forest resources.

The Forest Resources Act does not give the renewable resources councils the responsibilities to carry out their roles.

For example 17.5.5.5 states the minister and Yukon First Nations shall take a number of things into account, with one of them being: “fish and wildlife harvesting rights and management plans as set out in Chapter 16 — fish and wildlife.”

This is clearly under the mandate of the renewable resources councils to contribute to the plan. It will be difficult for them to contribute this to the plan when there is no role for them to do so in the Forest Resources Act.

In section 9.1 of the bill, the renewable resources council is left out of the planning committee. The legislation expressly states that a planning committee will be set up to prepare a forest management plan for an area that is not settlement land.

This is direct violation of the Umbrella Final Agreement.

Chapter 17.5.3 — after consultation with Yukon First Nations — the minister shall establish the order in which plans for forest resources management are to be developed. The minister shall consult with Yukon First Nations prior to changing the order established.

I sat in the benches recently when you stated that the government has done its job of consultation.

The Umbrella Final Agreement states the meaning of consultation as such — and I quote:

“Consult or consultation means to provide:

a) to the party to be consulted, notice of a matter to be decided in sufficient form and detail to allow that party to prepare its views on the matter;

b) a reasonable period of time in which the party to be consulted may prepare its views on the matter, and an opportunity to present such views to the party obliged to consult; and

c) full and fair consideration by the party obliged to consult of any views presented.”

Have you presented bill 59 to all the First Nations and the respective renewable resources councils? You are obligated by law to do so. I state this because the Umbrella Final Agreement is law.

I am surprised that you are throwing out all the long years of consultation that took place to implement your own idea of how the act should read.

To discard the management plans that two governments and the renewable resources councils have established makes the Umbrella Final Agreement redundant.

I would expect the minister would only set up the committee in the absence of a management plan in the area or the absence of a final agreement in the area of the First Nation.

I am asking the minister to recognize the renewable resources councils and set up a tri-party committee composed of the affected First Nation government, their renewable resources councils and Yukon government to develop forest management plans in each traditional territory.

Dorothy Bradley

via e-mail

Thankful for our freedoms

Recently, I visited with someone from Amnesty International and was reminded of the freedoms we enjoy in North America.

Something I have thought of over this past year, but have neglected to voice, is my thankfulness for having a newspaper that is not afraid of criticism — not afraid to publish corrections or views that are contrary to those expressed by its own journalists.

I appreciate a newspaper that believes in freedom of speech.

Thank you for upholding that freedom.

Jo-Anne Holmes

Whitehorse

A sweetheart deal

for bureaucrats

The atmosphere of our subsidized welfare territory, the atmosphere of government-created, strived-for mediocracy, the lack of accountability, responsibility and professionalism is frustrating, enraging and embarrassing.

Cozy government bureaucrats, whether territorial, federal, First Nation or municipal present the motivated and enthusiastic entrepeneur with roadblocks we could not have dreamt up if we tried.

Anybody who has gone through, or more likely been stuck in an application process with any of the above governments as well as the YESAB process knows what I am talking about.

The Yukon could be a place for abundant and incredible economic opportunities (without compromising the environment) if it were not for the thousands of bureaucrats who are being nursed along and who, in their employment relationship with the governments, have never experienced and thus cannot fathom what it is like “to leave home” and stand on your own two feet.

I encourage all to be the exception to this rule — for your own sake.

Claudia Heath

Haines Junction

Why blast away at beauty?

When you walk among the fearless who have never been hunted, who are not angry with you for being there; when you stalk an elder ram for five days, putting him at ease; when you blow out his heart and drag his carcass off the mountain to flaunt and display, are you a hero or a villain?

Each year, a Yukon resident wins a permit, and an Outside bidder buys one in an auction, allowing them to act out the scenario described above in the Kluane Game Sanctuary — a sanctuary, no less.

Perhaps the greatest tragedy is that this destruction is entirely legal, and is, in fact, sanctioned by both the Yukon government and the Kluane First Nation, in whose traditional territory the hunt takes place.

I would like to thank letter writer Susan Rogan for outlining her concerns about the Dall sheep trophy hunt, and for describing alternative ways of capitalizing on our wildlife and natural places without destroying what we find there.

Yes, I feel the way you do about it. Thank you for wording it so well.

If the Yukon’s wildlife and natural places must be exploited, then surely we can agree that they are of greater economic value when they are left intact, and not destroyed. Ecotourism is a huge draw for wilderness adventurers around the world.

I challenge the Kluane First Nation to shift its focus from the limited killing market to a broader, more ethical, more sustainable vision of wilderness tourism.

A few hunters may have to do without their trophies, but in the long run we will all be the winners.

Rachel Westfall

Whitehorse

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