Consultation on assessment changes was ‘tremendous’: Leef

Yukon's First Nations received more than adequate consultations during the creation of proposed changes to the territory's environmental assessment regime, says MP Ryan Leef.

Yukon’s First Nations received more than adequate consultations during the creation of proposed changes to the territory’s environmental assessment regime, says MP Ryan Leef.

A coalition of Yukon’s First Nations say otherwise. They are threatening to sue if Bill S-6, which would amend the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act, proceeds as is. The bill has been tabled in Parliament, after recently clearing the Senate.

First Nations assert that some changes were made in a secretive manner and without adequate consultation. They say some of the changes undermine the spirit of the territory’s land claim agreements by ceding new powers to the Canadian and Yukon governments.

The First Nations will host a public meeting on the changes tomorrow evening from 7-9 p.m. at the Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre.

Leef disagrees with these criticisms. During an interview on Monday, he said he’s seen a “tremendous” amount of correspondence between the federal government, the council and respective First Nation chiefs.

“With all due respect, the notion that comments were ignored simply because they weren’t included doesn’t mean they were ignored,” he said.

“The council’s comments were considered and reviewed but there just wasn’t agreement with their comments. When one side or the other doesn’t get absolutely everything they want, there is this notion that consultation didn’t occur or there wasn’t enough of it.

“Consultation doesn’t always equate to getting everything you want.”

Leef points to an earlier five-year review of Yukon’s environmental assessment laws that involved the public, industry and other groups. It led to a draft report prepared by First Nations, the Yukon government and Ottawa in the summer of 2011.

All parties agreed to some recommendations, but some issues were left unresolved.

Yukon First Nations assert that the review process was never completed, because solutions were never found to these issues. First Nations say this report is misleading, in that it ignores First Nations’ concerns and was used to claim the review was completed in October 2012.

Leef said the focus should be on whether the proposed changes in the legislation comply with the Umbrella Final Agreement or not.

During testimony they provided to the Senate committee, lawyers for the council agreed that in any conflicts resulting between the act and the UFA, the UFA would prevail, he said.

“There’s nothing that will directly impact the spirit or the intention of the UFA,” Leef said.

“I don’t think at any particular point they were arguing that there wasn’t sufficient consultations on certain portions of the proposed legislation but the four key points they brought forward. When you look at the number of recommendations that came forward during the review, a vast majority of them were accepted.”

Yukon’s First Nations have four main objections, which include changes that would give the federal minister authority to delegate powers to the territorial minister.

Leef said that First Nations will have more opportunities to voice their concerns as the bill passes through first, second and third reading in Parliament.

“If the process is flawed and there is contention with it, then I’m keen to focus on that. Let’s find a way to define consultation,” he said.

“What is sufficient consultation? Is it 80 per cent? Is it x amount of hours? There is a bit of a subjective value to consultation.

“At some point either or both sides have to recognize there may be a decision made that doesn’t please everybody.”

Contact Myles Dolphin at

myles@yukon-news.com

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

Just Posted

In a Feb. 17 statement, the City of Whitehorse announced it had adopted the what3words location technology used for emergency response. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Three words could make all the difference in an emergency

City of Whitehorse announced it had adopted the what3words location technology

Jesse Whelen, Blood Ties Four Directions harm reduction councillor, demonstrates how the organization tests for fentanyl in drugs in Whitehorse on May 12, 2020. The Yukon Coroner’s Service has confirmed three drug overdose deaths and one probable overdose death since mid-January. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Three overdose deaths caused by “varying levels of cocaine and fentanyl,” coroner says

Heather Jones says overdoses continue to take lives at an “alarming rate”

Wyatt's World for Feb. 24, 2021.
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for Feb. 24, 2021.

Approximately 30 Yukoners protest for justice outside the Whitehorse courthouse on Feb. 22, while a preliminary assault hearing takes place inside. The Whitehorse rally took place after the Liard Aboriginal Women’s Society, based in Watson Lake, put out a call to action over the weekend. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Courthouse rally denounces violence against Indigenous women

The Whitehorse rally took place after the Liard Aboriginal Women’s Society put out a call to action

Then Old Crow MLA Darius Elias speak’s in the community centre in Old Crow in 2016. Elias died in Whitehorse on Feb. 17. (Maura Forrest/Yukon News file)
Condolences shared for former Vuntut Gwitchin MLA Darius Elias

Elias is remembered as a proud parent, hockey fan and politican

Susie Rogan is a veteran musher with 14 years of racing experience and Yukon Journey organizer. (Yukon Journey Facebook)
Yukon Journey mushers begin 255-mile race

Eleven mushers are participating in the race from Pelly Crossing to Whitehorse

Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on Aug. 4, 2020. A site on Robert Service Way near the Alaska Highway has been selected as the future home of Yukon Energy’s energy storage project. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Site selected for Yukon Energy battery project

Planned to be in service by the end of 2022

The Yukon government and the Yukon First Nations Chamber of Commerce have signed a letter of understanding under the territory’s new procurement policy. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
First Nation business registry planned under new procurement system

Letter of understanding signals plans to develop registry, boost procurement opportunities

US Consul General Brent Hardt during a wreath-laying ceremony at Peace Arch State Park in September 2020. Hardt said the two federal governments have been working closely on the issue of appropriate border measures during the pandemic. (John Kageorge photo)
New U.S. consul general says countries working closely on COVID-19 border

“I mean, the goal, obviously, is for both countries to get ahead of this pandemic.”

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Start of spring sitting announced

The Yukon legislature is set to resume for the spring sitting on… Continue reading

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

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse City Council this week

(Submitted)
History Hunter: Kwanlin Dün — a book of history, hardship and hope

Dǎ Kwǎndur Ghày Ghàkwadîndur: Our Story in Our Words is published by… Continue reading

(File photo)
RCMP arrest Saskatchewan murder suspect

Yukon RCMP have arrested a man suspected of attempted murder from outside… Continue reading

Most Read