Premier Darrell Pasloski and his colleague Bradley Cathers say that letters in support of the Peel plan from outside the Yukon don’t count.
A majority of Yukoners have stated clearly that the Peel is an extraordinary and precious landscape. Outsiders, including eminent experts in conservation biology and landscape management, have echoed the conviction that the Peel is more than a local issue – that it is indeed a landscape of world significance.
In dismissing the opinions of outsiders (while serving as loyal handmaidens to non-Yukon mining corporations) Pasloski and Cathers are following in dismal footsteps.
In 2001, the Taliban dynamited the ancient cliff statues of the Buddha in Bamiyan, Afghanistan. Like Pasloski and Cathers, the Taliban were implored by outsiders (UNESCO and most civilized governments) to refrain, because these 1,500-year-old statues were not just local curiosities, but part of the world’s heritage. Like Pasloski and Cathers, the Taliban insisted that outsiders didn’t count and that since they were the official government, they were entitled to destroy these priceless wonders. And so they did.
There is no difference in effect between the Taliban in Afghanistan who would destroy part of the world’s heritage and a Yukon Party government, which would do the same to the Peel watershed. Both are examples of primitive, myopic thinking.
There is something fundamentally wrong with our system when a handful of suits are empowered to make permanent, destructive decisions that are against the clearly stated public interest. If our electoral process endowed us with gifted philosophers, poets, and thinkers, one might rest easy in their judgement and good sense. Pity that we are “managed” by a former pharmacist and a colleague of considerably less attainment. Is it respectable that such people can exert so much clout?
The Umbrella Final Agreement gave us a planning process that brought the public into partnership with a citizen-based planning commission. The process was so inclusive, complete, and well-founded that by the time the commission submitted its final recommended plan, the proper course for government would have been to have accepted it. After all, government had seven years to contribute to the commission and to review its work. That is, if they were acting in good faith.
It may be constitutionally “legal,” but it is morally illegitimate for a small group of politicians to make irreversible decisions about the Peel watershed? Especially since the importance of this landscape dwarfs their little ambitions. Especially since they have been shown the public good by the people themselves. Especially since the public good has emerged through a legal and defensible process.
It is not too late for government MLAs to make a name in history for themselves. By serving the public and accepting the plan, they can be politicians of genuine stature. Or they can join the vast ranks of minor, timid, and trivial pols who fade in memory – because in fact they did nothing that really mattered for the good.