Whitehorse: Unsettled land claims in the Yukon continue to cause uncertainly for First Nations and industry alike and the latest court battle involving the White River First Nation is only the latest example, says Klondike MLA Sandy Silver. Silver has been encouraging the Government of Yukon to re-engage with unsettled Yukon First Nations since he was elected in 2011.
"The Fentie government and now the Pasloski government have washed their hands with regard to the unfinished negotiations in the southeast and the northwest or our territory,” he said. “The result is the court battles and the uncertainly we see today. The Yukon Party’s decade of inaction has consequences for all Yukoners.”
Silver has asked repeatedly for the Government of Yukon to work with the federal Conservatives to get a new mandate for negotiations in place.
“The Yukon Party strategy of ignoring the unsigned first nations has proved to be a failure,” he said. “This antagonistic approach has resulted in 10 years of gridlock and thanks to events this week, earned Yukon a chapter in the next edition of Bill Gallagher’s Resource Rulers.”
The Klondike MLA is also concerned about the Yukon Party’s habit of overruling YESAB. He shares the White River First Nation’s frustrations with the ruling party’s unwillingness to abide by YESAB recommendations.
“The command and control approach with YESAB is very much how the Yukon Party has treated the recommendations from the Peel Land Use Planning Commission,” he said. “If boards come back with something they agree with the government is happy to approve it. If boards disagree their decisions are overturned.”
Silver is hopeful the most recent court decision will result in a new way of doing business for the Yukon Party.
“The adversarial approach to First Nation governments is costing us money, causing ill will, and stalling development,” he said. “This is another wake-up for the Cathers/ Pasloski government. The Premier is helping kick the economy over the cliff and making a bad economic outlook in Yukon worse with his confrontational approach, ignoring the tough policy work that is required. Industry, the courts and First Nations are all asking him to act with a solid, co-operative vision, yet he continues to rely on knee jerk responses to tough issues by trying to ignore those who disagree with him.”
The Supreme Court decision on the latest White River court case is here: http://www.yukoncourts.ca/judgements/supreme/2007/2013_yksc_66_white_river_first_nation_v_yukon_government.pdf
For additional information contact:
Jason Cunning 667-8942
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