Premier Sandy Silver and his colleagues were elected in large part by voters who support the final recommended plan of the Peel watershed commission. They voted for Silver because they took at face value his promise to accept the commission’s plan. If he hadn’t made this promise they would have voted NDP because this is so important to them. Keeping his word is a matter of integrity and it is politically wise, since the Peel plan is supported by a large majority of Yukoners — including all the First Nation governments.
In Thursday’s news conference, Justice Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee seemed to be dialing back on this promise with Silver looking on. I hope McPhee’s comments were just unfortunate contortions of having to defend in the Supreme Court of Canada the wrong-headed positions of the previous Yukon Party government. But they sounded much like weasel-words retreating from Mr. Silver’s unequivocal promise to accept the Peel plan.
McPhee said that “accepting the plan is not an option.” Of course it is. Even if the court ordered that the commission be formed again, the Yukon government, with its First Nation planning partners, can make the principles — and content — of the original final recommended plan their objective. McPhee disingenuously stated that with a new commission you just can’t tell how the democratic process will turn out. She went on to say that “much has happened in eight years” (it has been five years since December 2011) and that the Peel commission “had problems.”
Nonsense. The Peel watershed commission faithfully followed the process laid out in Chapter 11 of the UFA and produced an excellent plan that was supported by 80 per cent of Yukoners. The only problem the commission had was the mendacity of the Yukon government, which is precisely what resulted in this Supreme Court hearing.
McPhee’s statements sounded as if this mendacity was creeping in again. If this process results in a document that is not essentially that of the final recommended plan, Premier Silver will have betrayed the Yukoners who put him in office. He will have snubbed the First Nations he says he wants to collaborate with.
Mr. Silver, say it ain’t so! We’ve trusted you — tell us in plain language that you will honour your promise to accept the final recommended plan. Anything less and you will be no different from the Yukon Party and your silver will be tarnished.
First Nations and Yukoners: Watch the premier as this unfolds. Watch his colleagues. Hold them to their promise.
March just the beginning
On Saturday Jan. 21, I marched with the upbeat, and bigger than expected, crowd of diverse people standing up for rights and truths we all cherish.
The news over the weekend, however, diminished the excitement and euphoria of that event.
Trump took action to reverse progress on women’s reproductive rights in the U.S. and beyond.
His press secretary lambasted the press for telling the truth about the size of the inauguration day crowd rather than the inflated numbers the administration wanted to have reported.
References to climate change were deleted from the White House website, and Trump advocated a rebuilding of the coal industry. (Really? Who would want more cases of black lung and acid rain-killed forests?)
And ultra-right wing politicians around the world are flexing their muscles and thumping their chests.
So we will have to do more than a one-time march. We might have to do what the East Germans did to bring down the Wall — march every week. Or maybe we’ll march on the 21st of every month.
Some of us will stop using Twitter. Some of us will drop our subscriptions to newspapers and magazines that report false news. Some of us will use social media to share important information, like that other countries have NOT taken away American jobs, as Trump claims. Rather, American multi-millionaires and billionaires have shipped jobs overseas, where wages are pathetically low, in order to increase their own personal wealth. Some of us will boycott products made by those corporations.
Some of us will communicate directly with U.S. and Canadian politicians to demand moral action. Some of us will choose other travel destinations than the U.S. or those resorts owned by the wealthy class. Some of us will donate money and time to organizations doing important work for humanity and the environment, organizations which could lose government funding. Some of us will write, draw, dance, sculpt, and sing positive messages.
And all of us must stay informed via reliable, honest sources. And all of us must take care to keep up our spirits, to keep the faith.