Question re: YESAA process - December 8, 2014

Mr. Silver:   For months, this government has been insisting that there has been adequate consultation on changes to Bill S-6 that are now before the House of Commons. For the longest time, our Member of Parliament said the same thing — that no input from the public was required and changes could simply just be approved. Last week, our MP changed his mind and said that hearing from the public might be a good idea after all.

I believe that Yukoners should have a say on the changes that are being proposed, including the four put forth by this Yukon Party government. I believe that the House of Commons committee examining these changes should hold a public hearing here in the territory.

Does the Premier support that, and has he made a request to the Government of Canada?

Hon. Mr. Pasloski:     As I have spoken in this House many times, this government supports assessment legislation that is consistent with other jurisdictions across the country, ensuring that we have the ability to attract jobs through investment. I will remind the Leader of the Liberal Party — because it appears that he may not understand the process as I have also articulated — that these amendments to the proposed Bill S-6 — it is federal legislation. Yukon First Nations and Yukon government have been consulted and, as a result of that consultation, the federal government tabled Bill S-6 amendments to the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act. It is their decision how they move forward in terms of committee hearings and their consultation. As an invested party, we have provided our comments and we look forward to the due process as described by the federal government.

Mr. Silver:   I am taking from the Premier’s answer that that is a no. He did not make a request to the Government of Canada.

This spring, I asked the Premier to hold public consultations on changes to YESAA and to Bill S-6 — to actually ask Yukoners what they thought and what they wanted. I warned that the government and their go-it-alone approach would, once again, lead to strained relations with First Nation governments. The Premier ignored my requests and we have seen this predictable result of this government’s unilateral actions.

First Nation governments do not support the changes. The resource industry is urging the government to fix this mess that it created with its last-minute amendments. Last week, Yukoners were treated to an extraordinary spectacle of the Premier publicly fighting with the federal Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and our own MP over this entire mess.

What steps is the Premier taking to mend fences with Yukon First Nation governments over last week’s events?

Hon. Mr. Pasloski:     I think the question is: How will the Leader of the Liberal Party and the MLA for Klondike answer to his constituents when he states that the amendments to YESAA as a result of Bill S-6 are regressive. I’m sure that all those people listening — and in the minutes — and that all the placer miners and all the families that are supported through the placer industry will be very curious to hear how their representative feels that these amendments that ensure consistency — that he finds them as regressive.

Mr. Silver:   This Premier frequently tells Yukoners about the benefits of his strong relationships with the Government of Canada. Last week, Yukoners watched this Premier get thrown under the bus by the federal minister and by our MP over the four last-minute amendments to Bill S-6. The federal minister was obviously tired of taking the blame for this government’s poorly-thought-out last-minute actions to the bill — talk about regressive. So much for the special relationship that this government says that it has with Ottawa.

Will the Premier do everyone a favour — First Nation governments, Yukoners in general, the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, mining investors, and himself — and just withdraw these amendments?

Hon. Mr. Pasloski:     The consultation on Canada’s action plan to improve northern regulatory regimes started in 2012 and concluded in the early part of this year. Through that process, we provided a number of comments, as did First Nations. We shared all our comments with First Nations, but we did suggest two of those four amendments. They were around policy direction and delegation. The third amendment was a federal government amendment, as a result of seeking clarification by this government, and the fourth one on timelines was put forward by the federal government.

Do we support all these amendments? Yes, we do, simply because they ensure that our process is comparable to other jurisdictions, which allows us that opportunity to seek investment to create jobs for Yukoners.