The Yukon government’s new legal team for the appeal of the Peel watershed decision is prepared to play hard ball.
When the government first announced it would appeal the case, it said that it would not challenge the Yukon Supreme Court’s finding that the government had fouled up the land use planning process for the Peel.
“We can accept the court’s interpretation that the process should have worked differently,” said Resources Minister Scott Kent in January. “The appeal won’t challenge that. It’s focused on the remedy that’s set out in the decision.”
That is no longer the case.
Newly filed appeal documents indicate the government’s intention to appeal the entirety of Justice Ron Veale’s ruling and have the case against the government thrown out.
In March the Yukon government hired Torys LLP to replace Hunter Litigation Chambers in the case.
Vancouver lawyer John Hunter argued on behalf of the government in the July 2014 trial that the government was within its rights to introduce its own version of the Peel plan at a late stage in the planning process.
That argument was unsuccessful, and Veale ruled that the government must be bound by options that had been discussed at an earlier stage in the process.
His ruling would tie the government very closely to the Peel commission’s final recommended plan, which would see 80 per cent of the region protect from new industrial development.
The Yukon government’s own version of the plan allowed for new mineral staking in 71 per cent of the watershed.
If the government’s appeal is successful, that plan would become the law of the land.
Either party may appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada following the Yukon Court of Appeal ruling.
The appeals court will hear the case in Whitehorse August 21 and 22.