Yukon mining leaders calls for deferral on C-17, but MP not on board

Larry Bagnell will not be supporting a call to put off legislation that would undo S-6

Yukon mining industry representatives were in Ottawa last week to urge the federal government to defer a bill that would revert what they say are beneficial amendments to the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act (YESAA).

However, the territory’s sole MP says passing Bill C-17 as quickly as possible is crucial because the amendments weren’t properly negotiated with Yukon First Nations, and that he would not support deferring the process.

Bill C-17, which passed its second reading in June, is meant to repeal four controversial changes made to YESAA in 2014 by Bill S-6. The changes had been strongly contested by Yukon First Nations, who said they weren’t properly consulted about them and that they violated self-governing agreements. Three of them — Teslin Tlingit Council, Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation and Champagne and Aishihik First Nations — launched a lawsuit over S-6, but put it on hold after the newly-elected federal Liberal government promised to repeal the amendments.

On Oct. 3, Alexco Resource Corp. president Brad Thrall, Yukon Producers Group project manager Jonas Smith and Yukon Chamber of Mines president Mike Burke told the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs in Ottawa that two of the provisions to be repealed have resulted in improvements for the mining and exploration industry. One allows for permit renewals or amendments without requiring a whole new new project assessment, and another sets out time limits for assessments. Ushering in C-17 without ensuring those provisions survive could result in negative economic, social and environmental impacts for the Yukon, they warned.

“(It’s) like ripping the roof off your house before you’ve decided what to replace it with and leaving Yukoners out in the rain in the process,” Smith told the committee, describing the mining industry as “integral to (the Yukon’s) socio-economic fabric.”

YCM president Burke acknowledged that passing Bill C-17 “without a doubt … needs to occur in order to reconcile with Yukon First Nations,” but that all governments “must work immediately … to address the concerns and risks associated with the removal of the provisions addressing reassessment and timelines from (YESAA).”

The business of mining and exploration, Burke explained, is one of many variables, where a plan’s finer details often evolve and change once work actually begins at a site — for example, finding a new ore within an existing mine.

“A completely new reassessment including previously assessed impacts should not occur where a mine may want to include a new ore body, or an exploration project needs to drill some holes in a new discovery,” Burke said.

“The current process for determining reassessments has resulted in a decreased pressure on the resources of First Nations in YESAB as well as other government departments which participate in assessments.”

Teslin Tlingit Council, Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation and Champagne and Aishihik First Nations were not able to provide comment before press time.

In a phone interview Oct. 10, however, Yukon MP Larry Bagnell said he would not be supporting a deferral of Bill C-17.

“I think it’s important to get the bill through as soon as possible,” he said, adding that mining industry leaders, First Nations and the Yukon government can “carry on with their discussions about any other needed improvements” after C-17 is passed.

“I think for certainty in the mining and all industries, get this done so there’s certainty in the assessment process and then they should start discussions as soon as possible on future changes that need to be made,” Bagnell said.

“Had they negotiated those items during (Bill S-6), who knows how that would’ve happened, but it wasn’t, they weren’t negotiated, so because of the improper process, we just have to set the scene straight.”

Contact Jackie Hong at jackie.hong@yukon-news.com

federal governmentLarry Bagnellmining

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

Just Posted

Maria Metzen off the start line of the Yukon Dog Mushers Association’s sled dog race on Jan. 9. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Mushers race in preparation for FirstMate Babe Southwick

The annual race is set for Feb. 12 and 13.

The Yukon government is making changes to the medical travel system, including doubling the per diem and making destinations for medical services more flexible. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Subsidy for medical travel doubled with more supports coming

The change was recommended in the Putting People First report endorsed by the government

Chloe Sergerie, who was fined $500 under the <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> on Jan. 12, says she made the safest choice available to her when she entered the territory. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)
Woman fined $500 under CEMA says she made ‘safest decision’ available

Filling out a declaration at the airport was contrary to self-isolation, says accused

The Yukon Department of Education building in Whitehorse on Dec. 22, 2020. Advocates are calling on the Department of Education to reverse their redefinition of Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) that led to 138 students losing the program this year. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
Advocates call redefinition of IEPs “hugely concerning,” call for reversal

At least 138 students were moved off the learning plans this year

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Your Northern regulatory adventure awaits!

“Your Northern adventure awaits!” blared the headline on a recent YESAB assessment… Continue reading

Yukoner Shirley Chua-Tan is taking on the role of vice-chair of the social inclusion working group with the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences’ oversight panel and working groups for the autism assessment. (Submitted)
Canadian Academy of Health Sciences names Yukoner to panel

Shirley Chua-Tan is well-known for a number of roles she plays in… Continue reading

The Fish Lake area viewed from the top of Haeckel Hill on Sept. 11, 2018. The Yukon government and Kwanlin Dün First Nation (KDFN) announced they are in the beginning stages of a local area planning process for the area. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Local area planning for Fish Lake announced

The Government of Yukon and Kwanlin Dün First Nation (KDFN) announced in… Continue reading

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

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Fire damage, photographed on Jan. 11, to a downtown apartment building which occurred late in the evening on Jan. 8. Zander Firth, 20, from Inuvik, was charged with the arson and is facing several other charges following his Jan. 12 court appearance. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
More charges for arson suspect

The Inuvik man charged in relation to the fire at Ryder Apartments… Continue reading

The grace period for the new Yukon lobbyist registry has come to an end and those who seek to influence politicians will now need to report their efforts to a public database. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)
Grace period for new lobbyist registry ends

So far nine lobbyists have registered their activities with politicians in the territory

The Government of Yukon Main Administration Building in Whitehorse on Aug. 21, 2020. Some Yukon tourism and culture non-profit organizations may be eligible to receive up to $20,000 to help recover from losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Details released on relief funding for tourism and culture non-profits

Some Yukon tourism and culture non-profit organizations may be eligible to receive… Continue reading

Most Read