I was surprised to see Brad Cathers saying in the legislature on Nov. 27 that “the Yukon Party made it clear during the 2011 election campaign that we intended to propose modifications to the final recommended Peel watershed land use plan.
“During the election and during the leaders’ forum on environmental issues,” Cathers says, “very strong statements were made about our views.”
Cathers is not being transparent here. In fact, he’s dishonest.
I remember sitting at the Oct. 5 leaders’ debate when Darrell Pasloski refused to say whether or not the Yukon Party would support the final recommended plan. Pasloski said that night, and consistently throughout the election campaign, that it would be irresponsible to take a position on the Peel watershed plan until a final round of consultation had taken place.
The Yukon Party’s position only became clear after the territorial election. And the government is now working to rewrite the Peel watershed regional land use plan. It’s asking the public to comment on four predetermined options, all of which have been developed by government bureaucrats behind closed doors – with no public input. Contrast the Yukon Party approach to that of the Peel watershed planning commission, which produced a final recommended plan born out of six years of open public consultation.
There was a sense by many of the people I talked to at the government’s recent open house that the input they’re currently being asked to give doesn’t matter. And there was a real fear that a Peel land use plan has already been predetermined by the Yukon government, that what we’re participating in now is an exercise in public posturing. And that’s too bad.
If you want people to buy into a process, and any plan that comes out of that process, then you need to level with people. And you need transparency. Right now, we have neither of these. Yukon Party doublespeak and a cooked-up process has contributed to we have now – polarization, and a lack of trust.
Having said all that, I’d encourage people to turn out, speak up, and give their input in the current process – because that’s all you can do at this point.