Premier Darrell Pasloski appeared to change his tune on Bill S-6 in the legislative assembly this week, saying that his government “will not be a barrier” if the federal government decides to make changes to the legislation.
The incoming Liberal federal government has promised to repeal four controversial amendments in the bill, which made changes to the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act when it was passed in June.
During question period last week, Yukon NDP Opposition Leader Liz Hanson asked if the Yukon Party government would support the withdrawal of those amendments. Pasloski said only that Yukon First Nations were interested in a discussion with the Yukon and federal governments about how to implement the bill. He said he’d offered to help them draft a letter to the federal government urging prime minister-designate Justin Trudeau to join in the discussion.
But on Monday, a similar question from Liberal Leader Sandy Silver provoked a different response. “This government will not be a barrier if the new federal government decides to make amendments to their federal legislation,” Pasloski said.
On Tuesday, Silver again questioned Pasloski about Bill S-6. He asked how the government plans to approach assessments for projects that come up before the four amendments are repealed. Specifically, he asked if the government would exercise the amendment that allows it to unilaterally exempt certain projects from reassessment.
“How does the government plan to address this uncertainty?” he asked.
Pasloski did not answer the question directly, saying only that the bill is federal legislation and his government won’t stand in the way of future changes.
Silver said he has recently spoken with Trudeau, who has “reconfirmed the incoming government’s commitment… to appeal the four clauses.”
Aside from giving the government the ability to exempt projects from reassessment, the amendments allow a federal minister to give binding policy direction to the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board and to delegate responsibilities to the territorial minister. They also impose new timelines for assessments.
Earlier this month, the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations, Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation and Teslin Tlingit Council filed a petition in Yukon Supreme Court over the bill.