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Results: 1 - 15 of 582
Gordon Zealand
View Gordon Zealand Profile
Gordon Zealand
2015-04-28 8:46
Good morning. I wasn't quite sure what was expected of us this morning.
The major point that I'd like to emphasize is the fact that I don't believe there's enough recognition of the value of what our outdoor resource contributes to the Canadian economy. Within Yukon, it's corroborated by the fact that we recently did an analysis on just what the bison hunting does for Yukon, which just in the last few years was open to general hunting. When I say general hunting, it used to be by permit only. That isn't the case anymore. This one individual hunt, within Yukon, is now in the order of millions of dollars within the Yukon economy.
From our point, it just further substantiates the fact that we take our outdoor resources so much for granted, including the fishing industry. When I say the fishing industry, I'm talking about the sport fishing industry and what exactly that contributes in terms of dollars to the economy.
There is so much that kids are missing out on today because of the fact that we're just not getting them out and involved in the outdoor resources. When I mention the outdoor resources, I'm not just talking about hunting and fishing, whether it's canoeing, whether it's hiking. I am talking about just enjoying the outdoors. When you have kids participating in the various activities and you're trying to find out why there is a lack, the major issue seems to be that parents or other related family members just don't seem to be taking the time to get the kids out and be involved.
Our association is one that wants to try and emphasize at least the opportunity to have these things there for kids who perhaps don't have any other way of getting out and getting involved. We're not just talking about kids. There could be families that have not had opportunities previously. We see this as an opportunity. We're not just talking about a particular group. Whether you're talking first nations, whether you're talking non-first nations, it's the same.
There seems to be a general lack where kids aren't getting the opportunity to be out and be involved. At least from conversations with counterparts across Canada, it's not dissimilar anywhere else. We certainly have noticed that here, and that is one of our pushes in the future in terms of getting people out, getting them involved, making sure the opportunity is there for them to at least experience some parts of the outdoors that may attract them.
Down the road, it doesn't seem to matter what level of government we're referring to. All levels seem to take for granted the amount of money that is contributed to the economy from these types of activities and I just can't emphasize that enough.
At least to my eyes, it's a pretty simple picture that we just take for granted. From our point of view, this was the one major emphasis that our association would like to leave with you.
View Robert Sopuck Profile
Mr. Zealand, you talk about the bison in the Yukon. That's an introduced species, but from what I gather in speaking with Mr. Leef, your MP, it seems that the bison have settled happily into the Yukon and have become an important game species there. Can you talk about the history of the bison introduction in the Yukon and elaborate on what that introduced species has done for Yukon hunters?
Gordon Zealand
View Gordon Zealand Profile
Gordon Zealand
2015-04-28 9:14
Yes, by all means.
I'm guessing now at the number of years, but approximately 10 years ago the herd was at a number of around 500. Currently, the herd is approximately 1,500 and growing.
As for what it has changed for the economy, for a lot of hunters—and I'm including first nation peoples in this—participation in the bison hunt has taken away or lessened efforts in terms of moose, caribou, and other native species. The introduction of the bison has created an additional poundage of meat that's available. You take a bison and you're dressing it out at over 1,000 pounds of meat. It doesn't take many to add to the dinner tables throughout the Yukon. We started out with a limited entry, and currently we're having issues in actually trying to attain the number that biologists would like to keep things at.
In simple terms, I guess, the herd is growing and continues to grow. They don't have a lot of natural enemies. The wolves have started to move in now and have taken some of the young and what have you, and maybe over time there will be a slight decrease from natural predation, but currently the herd is not only healthy but growing and adding in huge amounts.
View Lawrence Toet Profile
Mr. Zealand and Mr. Lowry, would you have seen the same things happen in Alberta and the Yukon during that period of time?
Gordon Zealand
View Gordon Zealand Profile
Gordon Zealand
2015-04-28 9:29
From the Yukon perspective, absolutely, and I believe it's still continuing. In fact, two weeks ago I was asked if we would like to take possession of four different families' long guns, because they had reduced opportunity with the passing of their grandparents. We were asked if we'd like their firearms for the use of our kids' camps or what have you.
I'm seeing spinoffs that I quite frankly didn't expect to see with the change in the registry. Obviously, it is still continuing.
View Blake Richards Profile
Welcome, everyone. We have a lot of Yukoners, who have come out today to attend and we appreciate it. Thank you for being here.
Before we get started with our first witness of the day, the premier, I'd like to welcome everyone to the meeting this morning. This is the 36th meeting of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development here in Whitehorse.
I thought I would just quickly let everyone know how a parliamentary standing committee hearing works. We have a very full day today, and we hope everything will go quite smoothly. We'll have to work at keeping on time. I'm sure that not all of you spend your days with your eyes riveted to CPAC watching how Parliament and its committees function, essentially what we will do today, but just so everyone is aware of how a meeting works—and you may have a schedule—we will have panels of individuals who will provide opening statements to the committee, and then each committee member will have time allotted equally to ask the panellists questions or make comments. We'll move from one to the other in that fashion during the day.
If anyone requires translation, we have access to that. When the hearings are in session, people aren't able to take pictures or make recordings.
Other than that, we thank everyone for coming today and we will get started so that we can keep on track.
I'd like to welcome as our first witness this morning, the Premier of Yukon, the Honourable Darrell Pasloski.
We will now turn the floor over to you, Mr. Premier, to make some opening remarks.
Darrell Pasloski
View Darrell Pasloski Profile
Hon. Darrell Pasloski
2015-03-30 9:04
Good morning.
I'd like to thank you, Mr. Chair and members of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, for your invitation to appear before you today. I'd also like to acknowledge that we are gathered today on the traditional territory of the Kwanlin Dun and the Ta'an Kwach'an Council.
I'd also like to introduce the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources, the Honourable Scott Kent, and our official, Julie Stinson.
We're here today to convey our support for the passage of Bill S-6 as it pertains to the proposed amendments to the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act, YESAA. We believe after this bill is passed, there is work to be done here in the territory among—
A voice:Dzenu shäwkwathän. Good afternoon, everyone. This is a traditional welcome to our land. We appreciate the standing committee coming here to listen to Yukoners. We have some very important things to say, and we'd like to share a couple of songs with you. This is our traditional ceremonial way.
[Musical presentation]
Darrell Pasloski
View Darrell Pasloski Profile
Hon. Darrell Pasloski
2015-03-30 9:08
Thank you, Mr. Chair. I thank the drummers as well for their welcome.
Mr. Chair, we're here today to convey our support for the passage of Bill S-6 as it pertains to the proposed amendments to the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act, YESAA. We believe that after this bill is passed, there is work to be done here in the territory among first nations and the Yukon government.
As you will no doubt hear today, Yukoners are proud capable people. We like to resolve our own issues as much as possible. We like to work things out Yukoner to Yukoner, government to government. Today I hope we can broaden your appreciation of the Government of Yukon's perspective regarding the benefits of amending this act. I hope to share with you a path forward that I believe advances all interests.
Last year marked 10 years since the devolution of responsibility for lands and resources from the Government of Canada to the Government of Yukon. Devolution, or evolution as I like to call it, marked a turning point in Yukon's modern history. In that pivotal moment, we set out on a road to self-determination and managing our own resources.
The benefits of devolution are tremendous. In our view, what is good for Yukon is good for Canada. When the Yukon Act came into effect on April 1, 2003, Yukon gained law-making authority with respect to the vast majority of our natural resources. This has enabled us to develop sustainable management regimes, working cooperatively with first nations and industry. Since 2003 we've experienced steady prosperity, and private sector contributions to our economy have soared. Our population has increased for the 10th consecutive year.
Over the same period, Yukon's leadership and governance capacity has grown alongside our population. The 20th anniversary of the Umbrella Final Agreement was marked in 2013. The Umbrella Final Agreement, UFA, is a framework for individual Yukon first nations to negotiate their land claim agreements. To date, 11 of Yukon's 14 first nations have modern-day treaties and self-government agreements. This represents almost half of the modern first nation treaties and self-government agreements that exist in the entire country today.
That growth in governance capacity has also informed the modernization of our regulatory regime. For the past 10 years, Yukon has enjoyed a reputation as having one of the most advanced regulatory systems in Canada. Yukon's resource economy has grown since devolution, with the mining and mineral exploration sector continuing to expand and develop.
That said, it is becoming increasingly clear that changes to the legislation before you today are essential in order for Yukon to remain a competitive place to do business.
As you likely know, YESAA is the implementation of chapter 12 of the UFA and the final agreements. Yukoners worked hand in hand for years to create the legislation that came into force on May 13, 2003. Federal, territorial, and first nation partners all play important roles in ensuring that projects undertaken in Yukon are in accordance with the principles that foster economic benefits. Each and every order of government helps appoint the board, acts as a decision body, and informs every assessment. As partners, we ensure protection of the ecological and social systems on which communities, their residents, and societies in general depend.
The proposed amendments to YESAA will, in our view, improve environmental and socio-economic outcomes. Since it came into force, some Yukoners, including some first nations, have expressed concern about the narrow scope of activities that YESAA looked at when considering the possible cumulative effects of projects. These amendments help address those concerns.
Under the proposed legislation, assessors will now consider the socio-economic and environmental effects that are likely to occur from projects, both those that have occurred and those that are going to occur. Taking into account the effects of potential activities is a positive step forward in our environmental stewardship and demonstrates our commitment to Yukon communities.
This act applies throughout Yukon as a single-assessment, neutral process conducted at arm's length from governments. Over the last decade, this process has demonstrated a high level of transparency, with decisions and actions made available to the public through the Yukon online registry system.
However, like most new legislation YESAA requires some, mostly minor, amendments. These mostly minor amendments will enable YESAA to continue to serve our territory well into the future. When Canada pursued amendments to the act, it engaged with the Yukon government, the Council of Yukon First Nations, individual Yukon first nations, and the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board, YESAB. The changes that have been tabled are a result of the close work of these parties, as was mandated by the YESAA five-year review process.
These changes were also informed by the federal action plan to improve northern regulatory regimes. During the review phase, Canada asked the Government of Yukon to provide input into several amendments that focus on improving the overall efficiency and effectiveness of the assessment regime.
I cannot and I will not speak to first nation views on consultation. To do so would be disrespectful of first nation leaders, who will share or have shared their own views with you. However, I can and I will speak for the Yukon government. In our view the Yukon government was adequately consulted during this phase, and our feedback and our comments were taken into consideration.
Together, these changes stand to benefit Yukon because they focus on the following areas: clarification of roles and responsibilities, cost-effective and efficient processes, and the value and timeliness of the assessment process. It is also essential that Yukon remain competitive with other jurisdictions while aiming to protect and promote the environmental and socio-economic well-being of the territory and its people.
Although in the past YESAA has worked well for Yukoners, we believe these proposed amendments are necessary to remain competitive. The amendments outlined in Bill S-6 update the requirement that only the federal government can fulfill. YESAA is, after all, federal legislation.
It is also important, however, that Yukoners resolve concerns among themselves as far as possible. The last time I met with the chiefs, I was clear that I wanted to focus on those issues that we can control. I stand by that statement, and I think Bill S-6 offers us just such an opportunity.
Yukon government and first nations have a long history of working together to resolve issues that arise from federal actions and legislation. We did it with the devolution transfer agreement and the oil and gas accord. In both of these cases the federal government did its part, and leaders here in Yukon did our part to iron out differences that held up success. We let the federal legislation or action stand and we negotiated bilateral arrangements that made them work for us as Yukoners.
Today I'm proposing that Yukon leaders once again take up that challenge. I have heard and understood the first nations' concerns with these amendments. Let's be leaders in our own house and negotiate a bilateral accord on implementation that resolves these issues. We've done it before and we can do it again. If there are concerns about policy direction, or capacity, or delegation, let's agree on how those functions will be implemented on the ground. Working government to government is not new to us in Yukon; it is our preferred way of doing business.
We appreciate the federal leadership shown on this matter. We would like to thank our member of Parliament Mr. Ryan Leef, our Yukon senator Hon. Daniel Lang, aboriginal affairs and northern development minister, the Honourable Bernard Valcourt, and the former minister, the Honourable John Duncan.
Now is the time to come together as leaders, as chiefs and premier, and as neighbours to find a way to make these amendments work in a way that fits with our values.
In conclusion, Mr. Chair, I believe that the changes Canada has proposed to this legislation will ensure that Yukon continues to be a progressive and responsible place in which to invest and do business and an even better place in which to live, work and play, and to raise a family. I encourage Canada to pass these amendments and would ask the chiefs to sit down as partners in this territory to make our own way.
I thank the committee members for their time. I'm going to ask the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources to say a few words.
Scott Kent
View Scott Kent Profile
Hon. Scott Kent
2015-03-30 9:17
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
I too would like to thank the committee for travelling north to Yukon today to hear the concerns of Yukoners with respect to Bill S-6.
The YESAB has some personal connections for me. I was one of the original board members. I actually sat on the executive committee from 2004 to 2007 with, among others, Chief Sidney of the Teslin Tlingit Council, who I understand will appear before you later on this morning.
This legislation is certainly about more than just mining projects, although those get an awful lot of headlines and traction here in the territory. Energy projects, agriculture, forestry, transportation, oil and gas, essentially anything that requires a licence or a permit has to go through the environmental assessment process. I understand that about 220 projects per year are assessed by the board so far at two of the levels: the designated office evaluation and the executive committee screening. We've yet to see a panel review in the territory, but for the most part, the majority get done at that designated office evaluation level.
When it came into effect in the early years, YESAA was widely regarded as one of the most progressive pieces of environmental assessment legislation and process in the country, and a lot of that is owed to the timelines and the certainty that it brought. In more recent years though, the reputation has slipped somewhat, and I think there is an opportunity for us to address the licensing and assessment of these projects in the territory through some of the amendments that are proposed here in Bill S-6 as well as through some of the work the Yukon government is doing with respect to water licensing and the quartz mine licensing.
One of the documents we provided to the committee is the 2013 report of the Yukon Minerals Advisory Board. This is a board of individuals appointed by the Yukon government and involved in the mining industry. They produce an annual report, which we table in the Yukon Legislative Assembly. I'd like to read into the record the conclusion of their report, from the second paragraph on page 7:
In 2013 however, as reflected in this report, YMAB chose to focus on what industry has determined is the key issue negatively impacting the industry; the deterioration in the efficiency and reliability of the assessment and licensing of mining projects in the territory.
It goes on to say:
The system has become more costly, cumbersome and protracted and the Yukon’s mineral industry is developing an increasingly negative image as an attractive investment destination.
It goes on to conclude that paragraph:
There is a clear urgency for the Government of Yukon to act.
Scott Kent
View Scott Kent Profile
Hon. Scott Kent
2015-03-30 9:20
Just so we can get to questions, to close that out then, if you turn to page 6 in that report, two of the recommendations are reflected in Bill S-6. These are on the adequacy review timelines for YESAA and the Yukon Water Board, as well as on YESAA reassessment process clarity.
I'll conclude my remarks with that and welcome questions from members of the committee.
View Dennis Bevington Profile
Premier, you talked about the importance of the relationship between the Yukon government and the Yukon first nations governments. My understanding is that some of these very controversial amendments that came forward came from your government to the federal government. Was there a process in which you consulted with the first nations on these amendments prior to submitting them to the federal government?
Darrell Pasloski
View Darrell Pasloski Profile
Hon. Darrell Pasloski
2015-03-30 9:22
For everything we submitted to the federal government through the five-year review and through the two years subsequent to that during which there was a request based on Canada's action plan to improve northern regulatory regimes, we shared all of our comments with first nations. Any comments we provided to the federal government we also shared with first nations. There was full disclosure as to what our recommendations were.
View Dennis Bevington Profile
When it comes to making decisions in Yukon, you've made a choice that you would prefer to see binding policy direction from the federal minister to the YESAB. That was one amendment that came forward. I know it was a very controversial amendment in the Northwest Territories as well.
Why would you look at this as something you'd want to put forward at this time?
Darrell Pasloski
View Darrell Pasloski Profile
Hon. Darrell Pasloski
2015-03-30 9:23
Policy direction ensures a common understanding between the government and the board really to help reduce uncertainty and delays. Policy direction would have to be consistent with YESAA, would have to be consistent with the Umbrella Final Agreement, would have to be consistent with individual land claims and with other Yukon legislation. Policy direction is common in other jurisdictions, and we in fact have the ability to give policy direction now through the Yukon government under the Yukon Waters Act.
Policy direction would only be given, I believe, after consultation with the YESAB. Any policy direction must pertain to the exercise and the performance of board powers, duties and functions. Policy direction cannot change the meaning of the law. It cannot change the assessment process itself. It can't expand or restrict the powers of the board or interfere with active or completed reviews.
View Dennis Bevington Profile
Thank you. I have one more question I'd like it get in.
In a statement in the legislature, you said, “I stand on the side of ensuring that we have legislation that is consistent with Nunavut, Northwest Territories and the other provinces in this country.”
Don't you feel that the three northern territories are unique in themselves? What was the purpose of that statement? Are you suggesting that somehow Yukon has the same type of arrangements with its first nations as Alberta or that it is in a situation to provide direction in a way similar to the way we would do so in the Northwest Territories?
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