Recently a friend reported returning from a Yukon canoe trip. The river was crowded with other paddlers, and almost all of them were from Germany. This summer we, too, shared time with German friends who are repeat visitors.
What visitors from Europe – and indeed elsewhere – understand is that the Yukon is different from most other places. It manifests the kinds of wildness, cultural heritage, and landscapes that have been lost elsewhere. For many of these folks wild places like the Yukon are markers that remind them of the costs of rapacious development, abandonment of future generations, and poor political planning.
Now, to the disbelief of our visitors and most Yukoners alike, Premier Darrell Pasloski is touting tourism agreements signed in Germany. This is after he and his team, just months earlier, repeatedly belittled anyone from outside the territory who dared to support the Peel River Planning Commission’s recommendations.
The hypocrisy of these events is obvious. But more important is the facile parochialism of Pasloski’s government. Shunning others ignores the fact that the Yukon isn’t a territory that locals should run roughshod over. Rather, it is place of international significance that we have responsibility to look after with care and respect. And we have a responsibility to listen carefully to what others think.
Yet worse, however, is the Pasloski government’s contempt for Yukoners and our friends. Dissing a well-executed planning process in favour of a fake consultation, which by its own admission failed to produce reliable data (remember, the numbers don’t matter), is contemptuous of most Yukoners who want the Peel River watershed protected. Pasloski’s message to our German friends is simple: “We’ll take your money and nothing else. Keep your opinions to yourself.”
We haven’t seen this kind of disdain for others since the last Yukon wolf-kill, where another Yukon Party government felt it was above listening to others.
I hope that our German, and other global friends, will tell Premier Pasloski what they think of that.