First Nations' S-6 court challenge another sign of broken Yukon government relationship

As three Yukon First Nations prepare to defend the negotiated treaty rights undermined by Bill S-6 in yet another court battle, the Yukon NDP says the Yukon Party government should withdraw its support for the bill’s controversial, non-negotiated changes. Bill S-6’s changes to the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act (YESAA) are a direct assault on Yukon First Nations’ treaty rights that undermine the First Nations Final Agreements’ negotiated socio-economic and environmental assessment process.

YESAA is federal legislation; the controversial amendments contained in Bill S-6 were tabled in the Senate by Yukon Senator Dan Lang, where it passed unanimously with Conservative and Liberal support. The Yukon NDP, in collaboration with its federal counterpart, has fought hard since Day One to support the Yukon First Nations campaign against the bill. In December 2014, Yukon NDP leader Liz Hanson and NDP leader Tom Mulcair met with Yukon First Nations in Ottawa to show their solidarity.

“The Yukon Party government have shown that they are more interested in unilateral decisions than respecting the relationships established in our First Nation Final Agreements,” said Yukon NDP leader Liz Hanson. “The fact that Bill S-6 has now joined the Peel Watershed land use plan in court is a clear sign that Yukon’s First Nations are not being treated as partners in government.”

Rather than building respectful, government-to-government relationships with First Nations, the Yukon Party government’s top-down, divisive attitude has real consequences for Yukon’s people, our environment and our economy. At a time when the private sector is looking for clarity, the Yukon Party government’s ham-fisted approach to resource development is doing the opposite by creating uncertainty.

As the Yukon Party and Stephen Harper’s Conservatives continue to alienate First Nations governments with undemocratic decisions like the four non-negotiated amendments to YESAA in Bill S-6, the Yukon NDP will continue to support Yukon First Nations’ negotiated rights.

“All Yukoners benefit from strong government-to-government relationships. We have been clear since Bill S-6 was tabled with the Yukon Party government’s support that Darrell Pasloski must honour his commitments to Yukon’s First Nations,” added Hanson. “Respectful, government-to-government relationships with Yukon’s First Nations are good for Yukoners, our environment and our economy.”