Open Letter to Liz Hanson:
There are many metrics for measuring democracy. Seats in a legislature is one, and the most abused.
In the last election the Yukon Party won just 40.6 per cent of the vote; most Yukoners did not want a Pasloski government. But the Yukon Party did receive a big stick to ideologically whack the majority. This is obvious, but it bears restating.
On the eve of many important decisions, we need someone to speak for the 59.4 per cent of Yukoners who are not being well represented by our government. Call them “the opposition,” “the underrepresented majority,” “the hoi polloi,” or, if you like, the “true voices of the Yukon” – but please be our voice.
Speaking of truth, remember how, during the last election campaign, Pasloski refused to discuss his party’s vision for the Peel watershed? It’s premature, he claimed. Misleading? Now, with a couple of weeks left before the moratorium on mineral staking in the Peel watershed expires, his party claims that it is premature to announce their decision about whether to renew this withdrawal of staking. Disingenuous? Even if the truth about his position on staking is revealed in the dying days of this legislative sitting, there won’t be time for debate. Sly? Most Yukoners could be excused for being puzzled about where to find truth within this government.
Another metric of good governance is the state of civil society. This is what happens every day. Do citizens have channels for thoughtful participation in government? Is anybody listening?
Civil society can be developed. Most recently, forums for building civil society have been written into the Yukon land claims agreements. Councils and commissions are mandated to provide public debate and discussion and to achieve workable consensuses around planning issues.
The Peel Watershed Planning Commission is one. Their six years of consultations and the Peel Watershed Regional Land Use Plan is a good example of civil society in action.
If civil society can be built up, it can also be torn down. Discarding the planning commission’s work belittled the dedication of many Yukon citizens that participated in this planning process.
Cobbling together its own “planning process,” the Pasloski government added insult. It would have been more truthful to say, “We won the most seats in the last election and the rest of you can go to hell.” But no, this government cooked up a half-cocked process. Wouldn’t more truth be refreshing?
Was the shambolic nature of this consultation purposeful, a ruse to conceal unfavourable outcomes (remember the numbers don’t matter)? How could this hastily thrown together “consultation” come close to providing the thoughtful and constructive input received by the impeccable six-year process undertaken by the planning commission?
If the Peel planning situation descends into litigation, it will be further evidence of the serious damage to civil society caused by the present government.
We need voices that can bring more transparency, truth, and civility to governance. We need voices to speak for the majority who did not vote for a Pasloski government. The leader of the Official Opposition is a good place to start.
For that matter, if the Liberals want to nominate someone to speak for “the true voices of the Yukon,” please do. The majority of us need all the voices we can get.
One of the gifts of entering 2014 is that the next election will not seem so far away.
In the meantime, go Liz Hanson, go!