These Peel watershed consultations are a sham

These Peel watershed consultations are a sham The Yukon government "consultation" on the Peel plan is a fraud on three counts: it is insincere, it is manipulative, and it cannot fulfill its legal obligations as it pretends to do. The Yukon government co

The Yukon government “consultation” on the Peel plan is a fraud on three counts: it is insincere, it is manipulative, and it cannot fulfill its legal obligations as it pretends to do.

The Yukon government come-on ad blares: “We want to hear from you.” Really? They already know what Yukoners think. They’ve had six long years of an open public planning process with extensive consultation and massive public input from all sectors of society. What part did they miss?

The problem is that they did not like what they heard. Cabinet has said in effect: “We understand the public interest better than the public does, so we will decide what is good for them.” On what basis they claim this wisdom is unclear.

The best way to whimp out on public consultation is to conduct an “open house.” It maintains the appearance but provides none of the real function of consultation, which is an open exchange of ideas among the public and the proponents.

Governments with sketchy or controversial proposals hate open, active public meetings where citizens speak freely to each other as well as to the “suits.” A public meeting allows citizens to form a critical mass where they actually debate and learn from each other. Governments who are trying to float something by will avoid this risk if they can.

This terror was manifest at the geoscience forum when respected Fort MacPherson elder Charlie Snowshoe attempted to address Resources Minister Brad Cathers. Cathers wanted none of it, stating he was not there for questions. In short: I am here to tell you … I am not interested in what you have to say, no more than I want to hear what my staff have to say.

Manipulation is evident in the material presented by the government. The real meaning of the “plans” written by territorial bureaucrats is glossed over with misleading green shades and labels misusing the word “wilderness.” They deliberately obscure the fact that these plans would allow roads virtually anywhere in the Peel watershed. The meat and the careful compromises of the Peel commission’s plan are not touched on.

Finally, and sadly, after this charade, the Yukon government will still not have fulfilled its legal obligation under the Umbrella Final Agreement to consult about the final recommended plan. The UFA instructs the government to consult on the final recommended plan before it rejects or modifies it.

The Yukon government has got the cart firmly before the horse. Worse, it has muddied the consultation by interjecting its own “plans,” developed entirely outside of the legal UFA planning process.

This should alarm you, no matter what party you support and no matter what you think about the balance between development and wilderness in the Peel. Legal process is a serious matter that binds all of us. Especially government.

David Loeks


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

Just Posted

Connie Peggy Thorn, 52, pleaded guilty Jan. 27 to manslaughter in the 2017 death of Greg Dawson. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Whitehorse woman pleads guilty to manslaughter in death of Greg Dawson

Connie Thorn, 52, was arrested in October 2019 and pleaded guilty in Supreme Court on Jan. 27.

Abigail Jirousek, left, is tailed by Brian Horton while climbing a hill during the Cross Country Yukon January Classic in Whitehorse on Jan. 23. Jirousek finished second in the U16 girls category. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Cross Country Yukon hosts classic race

Cross Country Yukon hosted a classic technique cross-country ski race on Jan.… Continue reading

Yukon Premier Sandy Silver talks to media on March 5, 2020. The Yukon government said Jan. 25 that it is disappointed in a decision by the federal government to send the Kudz Ze Kayah mining project back to the drawing board. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Territorial and federal governments at odds over Kudz Ze Kayah mine project

The federal government, backed by Liard First Nation, sent the proposal back to the screening stage


Wyatt’s World for Jan. 27, 2021

Yukon RCMP said in a press release that they are seeing an increase in tinted front passenger windows and are reminding people that it is illegal and potentially dangerous. (RCMP handout)
RCMP warn against upward trend of tinted windows

Yukon RCMP are seeing more vehicles with tinted front passenger windows, prompting… Continue reading

An arrest warrant has been issued for a 22-year-old man facing two tickets violating the <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em>. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Arrest warrant issued for CEMA violation

An arrest warrant has been issued for Ansh Dhawan over two tickets for violating CEMA

The office space at 151 Industrial Road in Marwell. At Whitehorse city council’s Jan. 25 meeting, members voted to sign off on the conditional use approval so Unit 6 at 151 Industrial Rd. can be used for office space. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
Marwell move set for land and building services staff

Conditional use, lease approved for office space

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. (
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

Most Read