Select committees and consensus decision making the Yukon way

Select committees and consensus decision-making - the Yukon way Open letter to Premier Darrell Pasloski: The NDP Official Opposition was pleased when the Yukon government proposed a select committee of the legislature to consider the risks and benefits o

Open letter to Premier Darrell Pasloski:

The NDP Official Opposition was pleased when the Yukon government proposed a select committee of the legislature to consider the risks and benefits of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in Yukon.

Over the last 10 years, the Yukon government established five select committees to address important issues: anti-smoking legislation, the Landlord and Tenant Act, safe operation and use of off-road vehicles, whistle-blower protection, and human rights.

Some of these issues were contentious and evoked strong opinions. However, Yukoners came together, spoke clearly, listened to the evidence and common ground was found.

It is interesting to note that these select committees operated on the basis of consensus decision-making.

So it was with some surprise and disappointment to learn that the Yukon government has proposed a majority vote system for the select committee on fracking instead of the consensus way our Yukon select committees normally operate.

The work of the select committee on fracking will, by the nature of the subject matter to be discussed, be subject to intense public interest and scrutiny. It is important that the outcome of this committee’s research, including public hearings, be presented to the public in the form of consensus recommendations.

Fracking is a potentially divisive subject. There will be strong opinions. There will be expert testimony and reports. It will be important to strive for a common position, and the Official Opposition believes that this can only be achieved through the model of consensus-driven decision-making.

As legislators it is our job to ensure that the process followed by the select committee is completely open, transparent and ultimately accountable to the Yukon public.

Consensus decision-making has a long tradition in Yukon. Yukon First Nations have used consensus decision-making for aeons. It is a good tradition that is worth maintaining.

This is why the Official Opposition will be moving an amendment to the government’s proposed select committee structure. We urge the Yukon Party to agree to consensus decision-making which would strengthen the credibility of the select committee on fracking’s work, and to build on Yukon’s strong tradition of consensus decision-making.

This action, based on the Yukon Party’s own record, will demonstrate leadership and good faith in the reasoned work that can be done by this all-party select committee. We believe this good work can be done without having to wield the power of the majority but by allowing these elected representatives to work to reach a consensus on what is the recommended course of action with respect to the critical issue of whether or not fracking should occur in Yukon at this time.

Liz Hanson

Leader, Yukon NDP Official Opposition