Recently, an advertisement entitled The Great Peel Land Grab was placed in your paper by the Yukon Miners (sic) Defence Fund.
I found this advertisement misleading and somewhat offensive.
Under the heading, Since the 1930s, the article mentions various groups that have made use of the Peel Watershed for more than 70 years: Yukon prospectors and miners, commercial paddlers and outfitters.
I am certainly willing to excuse the fact hikers, climbers, and noncommercial paddlers have been excluded from this list. However, the failure to mention that four First Nations have used the area for thousands of years is inexcusable.
Under the heading, But Their New Neighbours Wanted It All, the advertisement states, “When (Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society and others) realized that land claims had given them a golden opportunity to manipulate the land-use planning process, they launched The Great Peel Land Grab.”
The defence fund is referring to CPAWS as being the “new neighbour.”
Unfortunately, no explanation is given as to how CPAWS is “manipulating the land-use planning process.”
Apparently, the defence fund does not understand the Peel Watershed Planning Commission was formed “under the mandate of Chapter 11 of the Umbrella Final Agreement,” according to the draft Peel Watershed regional land-use plan, p. 1-1.
It also seems apparent the defence fund does not understand “the PWPC is an arm’s-length commission with members who are jointly nominated by the Yukon government” and four First Nations’ governments, according to the draft Peel Watershed regional land-use plan, p. 1-1. CPAWS is not a member of the commission.
Under the Fix Is In, the advertisement states, “If the proposed Peel land-use plan is pushed through, the owners of over 10,000 mineral claims north of Mayo lose their mineral rights by de facto expropriation.”
Actually, it should be noted that, according to the commission, the present number of claims in the planning area totals some 12,500, which is more than three times the number that were present in 2004 when the commission was formed.
The public might well conclude that it is the mining industry itself that is involved in “The Great Peel Land Grab.”
Should owners find they are not able to access their claims for development purposes, they can always put pressure on the territorial government of the day to provide them with reasonable compensation where justified.
Still under the Fix Is In, the advertisement suggests that the “unelected board (Peel Watershed Planning Commission) and small vocal pressure groups can manipulate the law to strip people of their property.”
Again the Yukon Miners Defence Fund fails to indicate how the Peel Watershed Planning Commission and these “small vocal pressure groups” have the ability to “manipulate the law.”
Nor does the fund tell us who makes up these “small vocal pressure groups,” although the advertisement does give us the idea that one might be CPAWS.
I wonder how the fund classifies the Yukon Chamber of Mines, the Yukon Prospectors’ Association, the Yukon’s Energy, Mines and Resources department, the Klondike Placer Miners’ Association or Chevron Canada?
Would these be considered “large, well-funded vocal pressure groups?”
As well, a mineral claim does not represent ownership of property.
It scares me to think that the fund believes that it does.
The advertisement suggests if the present draft plan is adopted then investors will “pull their investments in mines and exploration out of (the) territory.”
This statement is a gross exaggeration.
Even if the entire area under discussion were closed to the mining industry, much of the rest of the Yukon would remain open to exploration, so investment would continue.
It should be noted that under the draft Peel Watershed land-use plan (issued April 28th) only 11 per cent of the Peel Watershed would receive permanent protection from industrial development, despite the fact that during the last round of public consultation 95 per cent of the 437 submissions supported the Scenario 2 option, which would have provided for a more equitable split between protection and development.
Under “Think It Won’t Affect You?,” the fund goes into the usual “doom and gloom/sky is falling tirade” that the mining industry presents when it feels itself threatened.
One could paraphrase the paragraph under this section by saying simply that mining is important to the Yukon (which it is), but if the draft Peel Watershed land-use plan is adopted then we all might as well head down the highway because our economy will be destroyed.
The fund appears to have forgotten that the area under discussion is the Peel Watershed in which there are no mines presently operating.
It is also interesting to note that according to Richard Mostyn’s editorial in the YukonNews, dated May 8, the major claims in the Peel Watershed are held by five mining companies.
He states that “According to their securities commission filings, they’ve spent a total of $38,979,900 exploring the region between 2005 and 2008.”
He also mentions that “Cash Minerals, which has a focus on uranium development, spent the lion’s share in the Peel – $27 million.”
So, it appears that if all mining activity ceased in the Peel Watershed (not a suggestion that even Scenario 2 proposed), and assuming that all this money is spent in the Yukon, the loss would be about $13 million a year. This is hardly a figure that would send Yukoners rushing to the airport.
The advertisement goes on to say that “A small group of people want to turn the north Yukon into a private hunting preserve and river park for foreign tourists while Yukoners are shut out of their jobs and businesses.”
I wonder what Yukon outfitters feel about that comment.
The fund does not seem to want foreign tourists to visit the Yukon. l expect it will be asking Condor to cease its flights to Whitehorse.
To be fair, it must then ask the two Chinese firms that own Yukon Zinc Corporation to stop investing in the Wolverine project. As well, it will have to tell Economic Development Minister Jim Kenyon to stop travelling to trade shows both in Canada and overseas in order to solicit investors from Korea, Switzerland and China.
Perhaps the advertisement should have said that “a small group of mining firms wants to turn the north Yukon into a private mining preserve for foreign investors.”
Unfortunately, the fund does not seem to recognize the value of tourism to the Yukon economy. According to the Canadian government’s “Invest in Canada” website, “The (Yukon’s) history, rich natural endowment, Aboriginal heritage and a multitude of unique cultural attractions draw 300,000 international and domestic tourists who generate revenues of $185 million annually – tourism is the territory’s largest private-sector employer.”
It would be interesting to know the names of the contributors to the Yukon Miners Defence Fund. Unfortunately, no phone number, website, or address is included in the advertisement.
I suspect it must be a new neighbour in town.
In any case, it is a fund to which I will not be contributing.