Yukon North Of Ordinary

News archive for May 10, 2012

Signs prompt Speaker to clear legislature

The legislative assembly was shut down briefly Wednesday afternoon as a group of youth raised signs in the public gallery protesting the possible development of the Peel watershed.

photo

Photo by AinslIe Cruickshank

Top: SIGNS DISRUPT HOUSE BUSINESS – Speaker David Laxton took the rare move of asking MLAs to leave the chamber early Wednesday afternoon after signs with messages were unfurled in the public gallery – a violation of house rules. Centre: GRAEME POILE and CASSY ANDREW. Bottom: HERE’S WHAT WE’RE SAYING – The young people who filled the legislature’s public gallery Wednesday afternoon later displayed their signs outside the Yukon government main administration building.

The legislative assembly was shut down briefly Wednesday afternoon as a group of youth raised signs in the public gallery protesting the possible development of the Peel watershed.

Speaker David Laxton asked the members of the Peel Youth Alliance to remove their signs three times before asking MLAs to leave the legislature.

The protesters then left the gallery, and question period resumed soon after.

This was the group’s second protest action against potential development in the Peel watershed. Last week, they unveiled Yukon Party “uniforms” – suits covered in mining companies’ logos.

On Wednesday, protester Graeme Poile, 20, said, “The government is missing the view of young people and putting the interests of mining companies ahead of the interests of Yukoners.”

Poile said the group has attempted to contact government leaders through a number of “conventional” methods, but has met with little success.

“Therefore, we’ve had to find new, creative ways to try to contact them,” he said after the protest.

“We hope to be getting our point across; we wish we didn’t even have to be here today. We hope in the near future we can have a more positive dialogue with the government.”

Cassy Andrew, 20, another member of the alliance, said she was surprised the young people’s protest shut down the legislature.

“Obviously, we would rather not have been there today to do such a direct and imposing action, but the Yukon government is systematically avoiding public will and the voices of Yukoners, and we’re not about to just sit back and let them do this,” she said.

“This is our future,” she said.

Andrew said the government has a “moral obligation” to accept the final Peel Watershed Planning Commission’s final plan, noting it has had overwhelming support by First Nations and the general public.

The group has a number of demands, including that the government accept the final plan and that it respect democracy.

They also want the staking moratorium extended until the Peel region is protected, and for mining companies to operate in a fair manner in the territory.

“Rather than being able to take our resources away at fire sale prices, we feel that there should be a good balance in how (mining companies are) treated in direct comparison to regular citizens,” said Poile.

Energy, Mines and Resources Minister Brad Cathers said in an interview the government does listen to the public and “is interested in the input of all citizens.”

“I have to again emphasize that the most effective way for anyone to engage in public discussions is to be thoughtful, constructive and reasonable,” said Cathers, who was interrupted by the Speaker’s address to the protesters.

“Issuing a list of demands is one of the least effective ways of engaging with the government,” he added.

The real concern stemming from

Wednesday’s protest, he said “is not the manner in which kids choose to engage; the real question is to what extent is her majesty’s official Opposition encouraging people to demonstrate lack of respect for the legislative assembly.”

“The NDP were certainly not surprised by (the demonstration),” said Cathers.

In an interview this morning, Liz Hanson, the leader of the NDP, strongly refuted Cathers’ insinuation that her party had something to do with planning the gallery demonstration.

“Brad is not telling the truth,” she said. “My party was not involved.”

“We do support, though, people expressing their views and doing so in a respectful and a peaceful way.”

Regarding the choice to use the public gallery of the legislature as the venue for the protest, Hanson said she understands that the group felt it might be the only way to get the government’s attention.

However, “I respect the ruling of the Speaker that it’s not in keeping with the rules of order in the house,” she said.

Andrew said the youth alliance is sitting at approximately 30 members, but is growing steadily.

Another gathering began at noon today on the lawn of the legislature in support of protecting the Peel and implementing the planning commission’s recommended plan as written. It was scheduled to go on until 2 p.m

Hanson said she was looking forward to joining those Yukoners there today, as they express support for protection of the Peel.

CommentsAdd a comment

Patrick

May 10, 2012 at 4:33 pm

Andrew said the government has a “moral obligation” to accept the final Peel Watershed Planning Commission’s final plan, noting it has had overwhelming support by First Nations and the general public. Most Yukoners agree with Andrew.

The Yukon party has a moral obligation to represent all Yukoners-  not just the industry (mining).

Joel

May 10, 2012 at 5:46 pm

What is “overwhelming support” anyhow?  100 people, 1000 people, 10 000 people?  30 people based on this article…and growing steadily.

Overwhelming is a very relative term, like “most”, “many” or “alot” which basically means we don’t know but the people near me all agree.

I wonder how overwhelming your support would be in one of the mining camps or with the people working in exploration?  How about people working in supply industries or in transportation?  A hand picked group of like minded individuals does not make an overwhelming majority.

Get real numbers or simply say the people that are protesting with you believe…or the 30 people disrupting the legislature believe.

D Drake

May 10, 2012 at 8:39 pm

Finally, Thank you Mr. Speaker

G Hardy

May 11, 2012 at 1:45 pm

Non-cooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good….Henry David Thoreau… ‘Resistance to Civil Government’

flyingfur

May 11, 2012 at 3:13 pm

Joel:  I could not agree more.  That said, there’s a flip side to that coin; are there any actual numbers on how many Yukoners support the Yukon Party re-writing or ignoring the plan?  Don’t say the last election because the Yukon Party had no opinion on the issue then other than to say the process was still underway rather than state their real intent, and that was to wait until the process was completed, and the election was over, before moving on the issue.  A referendum would put real numbers to the issue, but in my opinion the Yukon Party will never allow that because they are afraid of the results and of having to answer to the real concerns of Yukoners and potentially aggravating all of the financial supporters from mining companies that threw money at them during the last election,

Jackie Ward

May 11, 2012 at 4:27 pm

Good job protestors. David and his clan are scared of people standing up to them. They prefer closed door meetings and secret dealings. LEAVE THE PEEL ALONE. Why is there such a push to sell our resources to foreign interests? Including out of Territory.  For the majority of Yukoners, more mines means nothing to them. They don’t benefit at all. Wow, a few spinoffs from food supply and other things. Where is our cheque in the mail? Alaskans get paid. We are not much different. Hey maybe if the Chinese own enough land here we might be able to tell Ottawa we don’t need their help anymore. We will just become apart of China, it’s easier that way.

DG

May 15, 2012 at 12:42 am

I support the elected officials that hold a majority government. I believe 100% in what the Conservative party is doing with the Peel and for that matter all things they are engaged in. 

Fair and equal rights to all concerned. The commission was sorely biased because of a few loud mouths in our territory.

We need fair management. Period

shenya

May 15, 2012 at 9:00 am

Congratulations to all you young people for expressing your hearts for your lives and your children’s lives down the road.  Chemicals and heap leaches don’t have an immediate affects but seeps eventually.  For a small town surrounded with mining I can only see devastation coming.  Most miners don’t live here year round so their children will not grow up here with their lives in potential danger.
I believe in all you young people for your input.

Joel

May 15, 2012 at 12:44 pm

I agree there should be a referendum of some sort to decide this since each side believes they know what everyone is thinking.  The problem is, it would have to be mandatory and I don’t see that happening.  If even one resident did not vote, then each side would say they were on their side.  I still remember the last referendum in Whitehorse…to basically hold more referendums if I remember correctly.  Everyone wanted to be asked when the city was doing something…and no one showed up once the question was put out there.  You need 100% of the voices for a referendum to work.

I still do believe the election was a good gauge of this as well.  3 parties and all independents supported protecting the Peel fully or following the plan.  One party didn’t want to talk about it and actually said it shouldn’t be an election issue (it already was).  They avoided public meetings on the issue until the very end of the campaign.  People that I know that are pro-mining were voting Yukon Party because EVERY other party was considered anti-mining…even if they didn’t like the candidate in their riding.

Just Say'in

May 18, 2012 at 11:28 pm

If we are to be against mining then what are we all to do. Are we all destined to work in Government and the fast food industry or perhaps a seasonal job in tourism for near min. wage? I know these young people are well meaning, however misguided. Good paying jobs in industry and the skilled trades are very important for the health and well being of our community. Let alone to create the tax base to pay for those “Good Government Jobs”.

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