Premier's Bill S-6 testimony a commitment to long-term conflict with First Nations

The deep rifts between the Yukon government and First Nation governments were on full display yesterday during Premier Darrell Pasloski’s testimony to a House of Commons committee on Bill S-6. The Premier spoke in favour of amendments to the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act (YESAA) that were introduced outside of its five-year review and that have become a flashpoint for deteriorating government-to-government relationships.

The Premier’s claim that a ‘bilateral accord’ to implement Bill S-6 represents a government “olive branch” is a twisted irony: Pasloski’s government requested at least two of the bill’s non-negotiated amendments, including the new ability for the federal government to give YESAA binding policy direction and to delegate that power to the Yukon government. YESAA was created to provide an environmental assessment process at arm’s length from all governments.

Rather than using this opportunity to seek reconciliation with First Nation governments, Pasloski’s staunch support for Bill S-6’s non-negotiated amendments is a clear sign that his government plans to continue its confrontational approach to Yukon’s First Nations, which even has the natural resources industry openly questioning their ability to fund future investments in Yukon. With Yukon’s First Nation governments pledging to challenge Bill S-6 in court if it becomes law, the territory could face years of economic uncertainty.

“We are all affected by the Premier’s choice of conflict over cooperation when it comes to our relationship with Yukon First Nation governments,” said Yukon NDP leader Liz Hanson. “A Yukon NDP government would seek out opportunities to strengthen ties, government to government, and would call on the federal government to withdraw the four imposed amendments to YESAA.”

Showing further disdain for Yukon’s First Nation governments, both Pasloski and Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources Scott Kent left the meeting immediately following their own testimony. Had they remained to hear from First Nations leaders, industry representatives and community members they would have heard a sharply different story about the impact of their confrontational decisions.

“The Premier’s disrespect for First Nations is well documented through his repeated and deliberate attempts to undermine Yukon’s final land claims agreements,” added Hanson. “Yukoners have noticed that the Premier is dancing alone when it comes to First Nations relationships. His bullish approach to development is a roadblock to real, long-term prosperity for all Yukoners.”

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For more information, please contact: 
Mike Fancie, Yukon NDP Official Opposition 
867-689-4866 or mike.fancie [at] yla.gov.yk.ca

 

Photo: chrishunkeler / flickr. Used under a Creative Commons BY 2.0 licence.