Mining doesn’t resonate with Yukoners like it used to, says Liz Hanson.
“It’s not the 1890s anymore.”
Campaigning, door-to-door, the NDP’s candidate for Whitehorse Centre keeps hearing about the Peel Watershed.
“The Peel comes up again and again,” she said, during a press conference on Tuesday.
“People ask me where I stand on the issue.”
Hanson supports the Peel land-use plan, which calls for protection of 80 per cent of the watershed.
Now, she wants her political opponents to take a stand.
“They should be clear what they stand for, instead of being wishy washy,” she said.
Liberal candidate Kirk Cameron was surprised by Hanson’s remarks.
“The Liberals have been clear on our position for quite some time now,” said Cameron on Wednesday morning.
“We support the recommendations put forward by the planning commission – protecting 80 per cent,” he said.
The Peel has come up while Cameron’s been canvassing.
“But it’s bigger than that,” he said.
People want to get on with the business of developing the territory, said Cameron.
“We can’t remain, in perpetuity, dependent on federal transfer money,” he said.
The mining lobby is not happy with the recommendation to protect 80 per cent of the Peel, said Cameron.
At the same time, this is one of the last untouched ecosystems in the world, he said.
And by protecting it, “we would be doing a service both to Canada and the whole world.”
The world population, close to seven billion, is greater than it’s ever been, he said.
“And we have big decisions to focus on ensuring the survival of the planet.”
The Peel debate is interesting because it’s “homegrown,” added Cameron.
Historically, the territory called on Ottawa to devolve land and resources, he said.
Now, we don’t take our suggestions to a far-away minister in Ottawa, he said.
“It’s a homegrown debate.
“And we have to wrestle to the ground some really tough topics.”
Even with the Peel protected, there’s still a lot of territory left to develop, said Cameron.
“And there will be debates about this too.”
The planning commission took six years to create the Peel land-use plan, said Hanson.
“And it takes a conservative approach to development in this area,” she said.
But that doesn’t rule out mining.
“There are all these veiled threats that the land-use plan will forever ban activity in the area,” said Hanson.
“But it’s a hyperbole to say it will be shut off forever.
“That’s the brilliance” of the land-use plan.
It doesn’t rule out future development.
“It allows for technological advances that could make it easier, safer and maybe even cheaper to mine in the Peel in the future,” said Hanson.
While First Nations want 100 per cent protection in the watershed, the mining lobby wants the region to remain open for business.
The plan’s suggested 80 per cent protection for the watershed is a compromise, said Hanson.
“Like any process, you end up with a negotiated agreement that will work for all of us,” said Hanson.
“We’ll never come to a full agreement on any issue.”
Conservative candidate Mike Nixon did not return a call before press time.
Contact Genesee Keevil at