Mr. Silver: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The Yukon Party government was dealt another major setback today with the latest Peel land use court decision. The government is 0 in 2 in court, having lost the original trial and now the appeal as well. Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent on communication plans and Outside lawyers from Vancouver and Toronto. The trust level between this government and First Nation governments has been eroded significantly.
Many, many Yukoners and people of the public have seen their views on this subject ignored and the long court battle has had a significant negative impact on our economy and has now led to the third straight year of decline of our economy. It could have all been avoided, Mr. Speaker, if the Yukon Party had simply respected the planning process and used the road map that was outlined by the Umbrella Final Agreement.
Mr. Speaker, does the Premier take any responsibility for the long-term negative impacts that his actions have caused?
Hon. Mr. Pasloski: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. We filed our appeal to gain greater clarity into the process and to protect the rights of all governments to make and have the final decision around their land. To a large degree, Mr. Speaker, the decision accomplishes those goals and, as I have said, it is worth stating that we offered to deal with this matter out of court before the appeals were filed and we remain open to that approach. It goes without saying that this government respects and upholds the final and self-government agreements and our record demonstrates that.
Mr. Silver: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker — interesting response. The eight principles drafted in secrecy by the former Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources and the former Minister of Environment are really at the heart of this government’s attempt to sideline the final Peel plan. These eight principles, and the unilateral plan that they led to, have been heavily criticized by both court rulings. The former Energy, Mines and Resources minister is now the Justice minister. He will certainly have a big say in the decision as to whether or not this is going to be appealed. The government has had two months to prepare for this outcome and I don’t really get or buy the stalling tactics that I’m hearing right now today.
We recall the former Minister of Environment telling Yukoners when he was caught altering consultation reports on the Peel that “numbers didn’t matter.” Well, I have a number for this government right now that does matter —
Well, after the Minister of Environment took the reports of the Peel and said that the numbers didn’t matter — well, I have two numbers that do matter: one and two. Two court cases, Mr. Speaker.
I have a question, Mr. Speaker. Has the government now received the message? Now the Premier has danced around this, but he hasn’t answered it. Has he received the message or are they going for strike number 3 in the Supreme Court of Canada?
Hon. Mr. Pasloski: Mr. Speaker, I don’t view reaching out to First Nations as a “stalling tactic” — never have, never will. Again, Mr. Speaker, we offered to deal with this matter out of court before the appeals were filed and we continue to remain open to that approach.
As I said, in the case of the Bill S-6 amendments, there is always a way for governments to sit down and to resolve these issues out of court. Our genuine hope is that we can work with First Nations on these and many other issues.
Mr. Silver: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker, the my-way-or-the-highway approach of this government has led us to today. The Premier has stated time and time again in this House his opinion on his power over a democratically elected government.
What the two court decisions have both confirmed is that the Premier does not understand the difference between democratic power and constitutional authority. The court appeal has been very clear: Yukon failed to honour the letter and the spirit of its treaty obligations and the Yukon Party government should publicly acknowledge its responsibility for this failure.
We’re not getting any answers here today, Mr. Speaker, so I’ll just end with a statement. The Yukon Party’s antiquated approach to First Nation relations has become a textbook example of why this government and other governments need to respect consultation processes, democracy and First Nation treaty rights. It will only be through partnerships and open consultation that this territory will once again be able to move forward.
Hon. Mr. Pasloski: It certainly is my way and the way of this government to continue to reach out to First Nations, to look for opportunities, to reach agreements out of the court system, as we heard earlier from the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources. It goes without saying that this government respects and upholds the final and self-government agreements and our record demonstrates that.
We filed our appeal to gain greater clarity in the process and to protect the rights of all governments to make final decisions about their land. To a large degree, Mr. Speaker, this decision accomplishes those goals.
As I’ve said, this is not just about today’s governments; this is also about future governments. The courts have given today’s leaders an opportunity to work together, and it’s my hope that all leaders will take up this opportunity.
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