Selfishness is not a principle

Open letter to MLA Brad Cathers: Mr. Cathers, I recently heard you state in the media that we must move on from the Peel River watershed controversy, that we must stop letting it "polarize" Yukoners. Polarize Yukoners?

Open letter to MLA Brad Cathers:

Mr. Cathers, I recently heard you state in the media that we must move on from the Peel River watershed controversy, that we must stop letting it “polarize” Yukoners.

Polarize Yukoners? Come on! I think it safe to say a large majority of us are in favour of full protection for the Peel. The only polarization on this issue is from a small minority that includes yourself and your Yukon Party government.

I would challenge you to a binding referendum on that, but I know that will never happen because you know what the results would be.

I have trouble understanding why you and your party have exhibited such stalwart opposition to a plan with such foresight and consideration for our descendants.

I think we can both agree that we live in the best part of the best country on the planet. We are a small population abiding in a most beautiful, functioning wilderness and up to our eyeballs in natural resources. It doesn’t get much better than this.

I like to think of what we have as a tremendous inheritance. We are wealthy beyond words. And to not put something away so that our children can share in this wealth is nothing less than short-sighted and selfish.

Our economy is doing fine. Mining is booming. Just this morning the Fraser Institute, that enigmatic cauldron of capitalist and right-wing thought, reported that mining companies find the Yukon a safe and appealing place to invest.

Last year, Simon Mervyn, chief of the Na-Cho Nyak Dun First Nation, wrote a most eloquent and important letter to the media that relates to this point.

In his opening paragraph, he stated: “Anyone who thinks protecting the Peel watershed will affect mining investment in the Yukon hasn’t been to Na-Cho Nyak Dun territory in recent years. Our lands department is being run off its feet by pressure from mining companies to explore and develop in our territory ….

“We also have assurances from major companies currently operating in our traditional territory, including Golden Predator, Victoria Gold and Alexco that their future opportunities will not be adversely affected by full protection of the Peel River watershed.”

So, it would seem even the mining companies in question do not have a problem with “full” protection.

The Peel should be thought of as an RRSP for our children. An RRSP is something we set aside for the future because we have more than enough already to facilitate a comfortable life. And, as I previously stated, we are wealthy beyond words.

Perhaps there could be some non-invasive uses within a protected Peel, but that should not be our first consideration. Even if the only activities within the Peel are traditional First Nation uses, that should be fine. An RRSP is not something that is tampered with.

Development of 20 per cent of the Peel is completely unacceptable. In all likelihood, it will lead to more development and, at best, leave a fractured landscape and a greatly diminished inheritance for our children. For this to work, the Peel must have 100 per cent protection.

I ask you, Brad, and all Yukoners, to consider the value of the Peel 100 or 200 years from now – perhaps even 500 years hence. Of course, it’s difficult to place a value on something that far off in the future, especially when we already know it is priceless, but, undoubtedly, our descendants will be eternally grateful.

If they choose to extract resources, they will do so with noninvasive methods beyond our imagination. And I have no doubt, with the way the planet’s resources are being depleted and unbroken wild places are disappearing, the pristine piece of unparalleled wilderness that is the Peel will be cherished and protected as a precious gem. Priceless!

Simon Mervyn concluded his letter with: “Our environment is not for sale and we expect those who profit from it now not to do so at the expense of our generations of grandchildren.”

Meeting our own needs in ways that do not compromise future generations from meeting their own should be a founding principle in the development of all resource-extraction legislation.

Your government will most likely be remembered as one that facilitated a healthy and robust economy. You now have the opportunity to also be remembered as the government that had the unselfish foresight to invest in a most precious inheritance, in a time of plenty, for a future generation.

Sorry, Brad, but you’re a majority government (as much as a government elected with only 40 per cent of the voting public can be called a majority) with a minority opinion.

It is time to stop the polarization and get on board with the rest of us. Let’s do the right thing for all Yukoners now and in the distant future and give the Peel the 100 per cent protection it deserves.

Jim Borisenko

Tagish Lake

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Diane McLeod-McKay, Yukon’s Ombudsman and information and privacy commissioner, filed a petition on Dec. 11 after her office was barred from accessing documents related to a child and family services case. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon government rejects Ombudsman requests for documentation filed to Supreme Court

Diane McLeod-McKay filed a petition on Dec. 11 after requests for documents were barred

Buffalo Sabres center Dylan Cozens, left, celebrates his first NHL goal with defenceman Rasmus Ristolainen during the second period of a game against the Washington Capitals on Jan. 22 in Washington. (Nick Wass/AP)
Cozens notches first NHL goal in loss to Capitals

The Yukoner potted his first tally at 10:43 of the second period on Jan. 22

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Former CEO of Great Canadian Gaming, actress charged after flying to Beaver Creek for COVID-19 vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Are they coming?

One of COVID-19’s big economic questions is whether it will prompt a… Continue reading

Yukon MP Larry Bagnell, along with Yukon health and education delegates, announce a new medical research initiative via a Zoom conference on Jan. 21. (Screen shot)
New medical research unit at Yukon University launched

The SPOR SUPPORT Unit will implement patient-first research practices

The bus stop at the corner of Industrial and Jasper Road in Whitehorse on Jan. 25. The stop will be moved approximately 80 metres closer to Quartz Road. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
UPDATED: Industrial Road bus stop to be relocated

The city has postponed the move indefinitely

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment in Faro photgraphed in 2016. Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old building currently accommodating officers. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Faro RCMP tagged for new detachment

Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old… Continue reading

In a Jan. 18 announcement, the Yukon government said the shingles vaccine is now being publicly funded for Yukoners between age 65 and 70, while the HPV vaccine program has been expanded to all Yukoners up to and including age 26. (1213rf.com)
Changes made to shingles, HPV vaccine programs

Pharmacists in the Yukon can now provide the shingles vaccine and the… Continue reading

Parking attendant Const. Ouellet puts a parking ticket on the windshield of a vehicle in downtown Whitehorse on Dec. 6, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is hoping to write of nearly $300,000 in outstanding fees, bylaw fines and court fees, $20,225 of which is attributed to parking fines issued to non-Yukon license plates. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City of Whitehorse could write off nearly $300,000

The City of Whitehorse could write off $294,345 in outstanding fees, bylaw… Continue reading

Grants available to address gender-based violence

Organizations could receive up to $200,000

In this illustration, artist-journalist Charles Fripp reveals the human side of tragedy on the Stikine trail to the Klondike in 1898. A man chases his partner around the tent with an axe, while a third man follows, attempting to intervene. (The Daily Graphic/July 27, 1898)
History Hunter: Charles Fripp — gold rush artist

The Alaskan coastal town of Wrangell was ill-equipped for the tide of… Continue reading

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. While Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis is now setting his sights on the upcoming territorial election, other members of council are still pondering their election plans for the coming year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillors undecided on election plans

Municipal vote set for Oct. 21

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decicions made by Whitehorse city council this week.

Most Read