The spring sitting has just opened. Brad Cathers, the minister of energy, mines and resources, has tossed out difficult-to-believe statistics about responses to the government’s Peel consultation, without letting us know how many respondents supported the original plan developed by the Peel planning commission as opposed to how many went for one of the Yukon Party proposals.
Premier Darrell Pasloski delivered a rant against environmentalists during his budget speech, which included claims that environmentalism would ruin the economy, that environmentalists would never be satisfied, and that they wanted to turn the whole Yukon into a park.
That’s like an environmentalist saying that Pasloski and Cathers want to dig up and drill the whole Yukon. Both statements are obviously false and outrageous and the kind of thing one might say in a moment of frustration, but only in the privacy of one’s home and never when speaking in a professional capacity.
But those crazy statistics and crazy claims might have a purpose – a smoke-and-mirrors purpose.
The Peel consultation deadline was a few short weeks ago. Oil and gas consultation deadlines are fast approaching. One deadline was on March 28, although many individuals and organizations were requesting an extension. Why?
There have been no big ads or reminders in the media like there were for the Peel consultation. There have been no open houses or information sessions. There has not been time for scientists to gather baseline data about the land, water and air quality in areas that would be affected.
It almost seems as though the Yukon Party doesn’t want us to respond about oil and gas, or at least not respond knowledgeably. Maybe Pasloski’s and Cathers’ actions are meant to distract us from thinking about oil and gas issues. Maybe Environment Minister Currie Dixon’s announcement of a water strategy is another distraction. Could fracking be OK’d in the rushed oil and gas consultations before a water strategy has a chance to get off the ground?
Sometimes I think back to NDP MLA Jan Stick’s question in the fall sitting about transparent reporting of lobbying meetings. I wonder whom Pasloski and Cathers have been meeting with behind closed doors? What strategies and distractions have been discussed to make it possible for the oil and gas corporations to get what they want?
If Pasloski and Cathers don’t want to listen to the opinions of outsiders (86 per cent? Really?) about protecting the Peel watershed, why are they so keen to listen to outside corporate interests?
Why would they choose to follow advice from corporate lobbyists that makes them look foolish in the legislative assembly? Why not choose to communicate, to be honest, to be respectable, to be good leaders?