Letter to the Editor - Changes to YESAA

Dear Editor:

In January, I issued a news release calling on the Premier to go public with secret negotiations he was conducting with the Government of Canada on changes to YESAA.  The Premier ignored my suggestion then and when I raised the issue during the spring sitting of the Yukon legislature.

On April 30th, I predicted the Cathers/Pasloski government’s ‘my way or the highway’ approach would once again strain relations between public and First Nation governments.

In the legislature, I noted the Yukon Party only wants to work with one group -- the Conservatives in Ottawa. I asked the Premier to make the secret amendments public. He refused. I asked the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources. He also refused.

I asked, “Why has the Government of Yukon decided to go it alone, instead of working with the Yukon First Nation governments to come up with a united position to present to Ottawa?”

That question still stands.

Given the magnitude of these changes I find it hard to believe the government didn’t bother to share its knowledge and resources with First Nations.  The Yukon Forum would have been an ideal place to come up with a united approach to Ottawa.  The Government of Yukon didn’t even try.

And today, the fruits of this government’s unilateral approach to First Nations relations have led to more division and the threat of yet another court case.

It is unfortunate that after three years in office the government continues to demonstrate a complete inability to work with First Nation governments.  At the same time the Premier seems content and even pleased to do whatever is asked of him by his conservative masters in Ottawa.

At the very least the Senate of Canada should hold a public hearing in the Yukon so the public can have their say on this bill.  If the government was really interested in working with First Nation governments it would urge its Conservative colleagues to withdraw the bill to allow for more discussions to occur.  That is unlikely to happen given the government’s track record of siding with Ottawa instead of Yukoners time and again over the last 3 years.



Sandy Silver

MLA, Klondike