German Peel protesters crash premier’s party

At least five protesters donned "Protect the Peel" T-shirts at a Yukon tourism event at the Hannover Zoo in Germany last week.

At least five protesters donned “Protect the Peel” T-shirts at a Yukon tourism event at the Hannover Zoo in Germany last week.

They were told by zoo staff to take the shirts off or leave, according to a press release from the Yukon Conservation Society and the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society.

The event was hosted by Premier Darrell Pasloski. He was joined by Tourism Minister Mike Nixon and 17 delegates representing 14 Yukon organizations.

It was part of a trade mission to Europe to promote vacations in the Yukon.

The ceremony took place in the Yukon Gold Rush Days celebration in the Yukon-themed section of the zoo.

The protesters were part of a group called Aktion Fair Play Hannover.

Most of them left after they were confronted by zoo staff, said Karen Baltgailis of the conservation society.

But one took her shirt off and managed to approach the premier and present it to him, tied with a ribbon.

Kai Andersch, CEO of Wilderness International, arrived at the event after the protesters had left.

He has been in involved with the Peel campaign for seven years, he told the News in a telephone interview from Germany Thursday.

In 2008 he led German and Gwitch’in youth on a paddling trip down the Snake River as part of a cultural exchange.

At the Hannover zoo, Andersch was able to approach the premier on the pretence of being with the media.

He told him of his concerns about the Peel, and asked how, specifically, the premier intended to implement the recommendations of the land use planning commission, he said.

The premier told him that he hopes to seek a balanced plan for the Peel, and that implementing the final recommended plan “would mean billions of Canadian dollars in liability for the companies who have the claims still in the area,” said Andersch.

“His answer was very Yukon politician-like. In Germany we don’t really get answers like this, usually, if you ask a very concrete question.”

When the News asked Pasloski about the exchange at a press conference Thursday, he would not confirm that he said what Andersch said he did.

He would also not give evidence for how he knows that implementing the final recommended plan would cost billions in liabilities.

He did confirm that he was approached by someone in Hannover asking about the Peel and pretending to be with the press. He also reiterated that he believes a balance can be found for the Peel watershed land use plan.

Documents obtained by the NDP last year show that the government does not know what the ultimate cost of implementing the final recommended plan would be.

“The legal and financial impacts, both direct and indirect, on Yukon of a de-facto expropriation of mining claims through lack of surface access rights are unclear,” state multiple emails and documents from the Department of Economic Development, dated as recently as January, 2012.

If more evidence has since surfaced regarding the costs, it hasn’t been shared with the Yukon public.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

jronson@yukon-news.com

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