WHITEHORSE – “Yukon First Nations are modern people with modern agreements, being held back by outdated thinking,” said Liberal leader Sandy Silver today at a First Nations Chamber of Commerce luncheon. “Years of fighting and court battles with First Nation governments are damaging our economy. If properly implemented, the agreements are assets, beneficial to Yukon economically, socially, and environmentally. Agreements, if properly followed, provide for responsible, sustainable development and a strong economic future.”Read more
Mr. Silver: I have a question for the Minister of Finance. Many signed Yukon First Nation governments have tax-sharing agreements with the Yukon government. It allows them to collect income tax from people who live on First Nation settlement land. In some cases, it is a substantial amount of money. When the Government of Yukon changes income tax rates, as it does in this budget, it has a direct impact on First Nation governments’ revenue. If any level of government did something that was going to impact my bottom line, I would expect to be consulted about it before it happened.
Can the minister explain why there was no consultation with First Nation governments before these tax changes were introduced?Read more
It’s with great pleasure that I also rise on behalf of the Yukon Liberal Party to pay tribute to the 20th anniversary of recognized First Nation self-government in Yukon.
On February 14, 1995, the first self-government agreements were signed by the Na Cho Nyäk Dun First Nation, Champagne and Aishihik First Nations, Teslin Tlingit Council and the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation. The date also coincided with the anniversary of the 1973 presentation of Together Today for Our Children Tomorrow, a foundation document for today’s self-government agreements.Read more
WHITEHORSE – The Yukon Party government will try to buy Yukoners’ hearts and minds with their own money when the legislature sits this week, says Liberal Leader Sandy Silver.
“This has become the typical cycle with this government, as an election approaches they will begin building more new projects than local contractors can handle, resulting in employment for larger firms in the south,” said Silver. “What the territory needs is a consistent project building schedule that ensures local contractors receive the lion’s share of the work, and keeps dollars in Yukon. Mining is boom and bust, government spending shouldn't be.”Read more
What a week. Tuesday morning, the Yukon Supreme Court rejected this government’s unilateral approach to developing a land use plan in the Peel Watershed. This, in conjunction with a 2012 court decision the Government of Yukon lost to the Ross River Dena Council; make for two major legal strikes against this government in just three years.
Monday, we also learned it was the Yukon Party government that insisted on adding the four contentious changes to Bill S-6 that is being debated in the House of Commons. It is these last minute changes, slipped in with no consultation, that have Yukon First Nations preparing to go to court yet again.Read more
Mr. Silver: I have a question for the Premier. This morning, the Yukon Supreme Court rejected the government’s unilateral approach to developing a land use plan in the Peel watershed. This follows on the heels of a 2012 court decision the Yukon government lost to the Ross River Dena Council. Now that is two major legal strikes against this government in just three years. The government is currently championing Bill S‑6, which makes major changes to YESAA. Yukon First Nations have said that they will go to court if this bill becomes law. At the same time, the president of Casino Mining Corporation says that S-6 is having a negative effect on the territorial mining industry because it has no support from the First Nations. This government is not doing well when it comes to the courts.
Will the Premier agree to ask the Government of Canada to pull Bill S‑6 so that Yukoners can avoid another lengthy and costly court battle?Read more
Whitehorse: The long-awaited decision from Justice Veale on the Peel Watershed was released today and, much to the relief of many Yukoners, the Yukon Government’s unilateral plan was rejected.
“It is a win for democracy that the Yukon Supreme Court rejected the unilateral plan created by the Cathers/Pasloski government,” said Yukon Liberal Leader Sandy Silver. “This is a landmark case in respecting consultation processes, democracy, and First Nation treaty rights.”Read more
Mr. Silver: On Friday morning, the Premier held a private meeting with the Yukon First Nation chiefs to discuss changes to the class 1 mining thresholds. At the meeting, the Premier announced that new class 1 restrictions imposed in the Ross River traditional territory last year are going to be put in place in the traditional territories of both the White River and the Liard First Nations starting July 1 of this year. He also said that notification for class 1 activities would be introduced Yukon-wide sooner rather than later. These new class 1 thresholds are results of the Ross River Court of Appeal decision handed down last year. The Yukon Party has insisted, since the decision was released, that it only applied to Ross River and not to other First Nations. Now, on the eve of another exploration season, the government has now changed its mind. Why?Read more
Mr. Silver: Since coming to office in 2002, the Yukon Party government has taken a hands-off approach to working with unsigned Yukon First Nations. The federal Conservatives have followed suit and have made no attempt to either (a) reach a final agreement under the UFA, or (b) work out an alternative arrangement that would bring more certainty to both unsigned First Nations and the public, who also use the land for a variety of purposes, including resource development. Successive Yukon Party governments have been unwilling or unable to bridge the gap. The result is legal uncertainty, expensive court battles and a confused resource sector.Read more
Hansard November 20, 2013
Mr. Silver: I have more questions regarding this government’s answer to the Ross River Court decision. This government is responding to one aspect of the ruling by making changes to our mining legislation. The second part of the ruling is being met through government-to-government discussions with the Ross River Dena Council and Yukon government, as far as identifying lands in the Ross River area that will no longer be available for staking.
The minister said that he was working toward a December 27 deadline in those discussions with Ross River. He mentioned earlier today that he has been in discussion with the chief from RRDC. When did the discussions that the minister is referring to between Ross River and government begin? Could the minister tell us when that last meeting was?Read more