Letter to the Editor: Economic Development - May 20, 2015

Dear Mr. Thompson:

In his May 6th Pointed View your columnist got it half right regarding the recession the Yukon currently finds itself in.  Mineral prices may be bigger than Yukon, but government does have a role to play when creating a climate for investment.

As the Yukon Party has only recently learned; the Yukon government cannot control mineral prices. However, for the duration of the good times the Yukon Party continued to take credit for the Yukon’s strong economy, one former Minister went so far as to say “Yukon’s climb to the top of the rankings has absolutely nothing to do with world mineral prices; it has everything to do with us — this government — making the changes necessary to restore investor confidence in the Yukon.” It only stands to reason that if the government wants to congratulate itself, than it should also share the responsibility of the decline in our economic growth, especially when their actions are what are causing the loss of investor confidence.

As I have highlighted in question period and in a previous letter to the editor, despite these same mineral prices there has been GDP growth in the other territories and mining has been a part of that. Your columnist noted that since 2009 we had out preformed BC and NWT on average. I think this highlights an even bigger issue: despite our huge exploration boom over that period – we have fewer operating mines now than we did when the Pasloski/Cathers government came into power. The opportunity of that period of huge exploration spending has now passed us, and we are left hoping for the rebound.

There are factors that the Yukon government can control, the biggest one being its relationships with First Nations. The Premier has made no secret of his support for Bill S-6, changes to YESAA legislation, this despite the fact First Nation governments have openly stated they will take the government to court over these changes. Industry understands this, we heard from one mining executive during the parliamentary committee on S-6, that “because court cases create assessment and regulatory uncertainty in addition to extraordinary delay, all of which erodes investor confidence."

This year I went down to the annual mineral Roundup in Vancouver. The event serves as an excellent opportunity for government officials to meet with Western Canada’s mining industry and promote the jurisdiction as a good place to do business. The message I received loud and clear from industry was that the Yukon Party government’s strained relationship with First Nations was going to have an impact on investment decision’s this year and beyond. Coupled with the regulatory problems this government has let fester we are no longer an attractive place to do business and the Yukon Party has to answer for that.

Your columnist is right that Yukon does not control the world mineral prices, but to say that the Premier’s  actions or inactions have no impact on our economy is to oversimplify how investment decisions are made.



Sandy Silver
Leader, Yukon Liberal Party

This letter was published in the May 20, 2015 Yukon News