Whitehorse Daily Star

Oil, gas act changes rankle First Nations

In the wake of last week’s Peel River watershed appeal ruling, another case of First Nations accusing the Yukon government of poor consultation has come forward.

By Aimee O'Connor on November 12, 2015

In the wake of last week’s Peel River watershed appeal ruling, another case of First Nations accusing the Yukon government of poor consultation has come forward.

The chiefs of the Tr’ondek Hwech’in, Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation and First Nation of Nacho Nyak Dun recently penned a letter to the minister of Energy, Mines and Resources (EMR) expressing frustration at the draft amendments to Yukon’s Oil and Gas Act.

“Bill 93 was tabled in the legislature ... without further engagement with Yukon First Nations,” the letter stated.

“Accordingly, we are writing you to inform you that we object strongly to Yukon government’s approach.”

The bill containing the amendments to the oil and gas legislation was tabled in legislature Oct. 28.

It contains alterations that modernize the act and clarify well abandonment and re-abandonment requirements and procedures.

In a statement, EMR Minister Scott Kent said the changes enable the government to “continue in its commitment to improve transparency” and ensure First Nations “continue to benefit from the oil and gas sector’s growth opportunities.”

There is one major revision which the three First Nations claim to not have been consulted on adequately.

If passed, the bill would provide the minister with the power to extend the term of an oil and gas permit indefinitely.

Previously in the act, a permit would last a maximum period of 10 years.

The argument from the distressed First Nations goes back to a memorandum of agreement (MOA) the Yukon government signed back in 1997.

Essentially, it recognizes First Nations as “full participants” with the government in management of oil and gas regimes in the territory.

In a discussion document that was distributed during a 60-day consultation period for the Oil and Gas Act, the number used in the permit extension was 12 years – not the “beyond 10 years” which appears in the draft legislation now.

“In this instance, it appears the Yukon government has chosen to ignore its legal obligations,” the chiefs wrote in their letter.

Last week, NDP MLA Jim Tredger tabled the letter and pressed Kent to address the concerns of the chiefs.

“Not only was the consultation inadequate, but also the government’s amendments unexpectedly expand the unilateral powers of the minister,” Tredger said.

In his defence, Kent reiterated that there had been two months of consultation, beginning on July 16 and ending on Sept. 14.

“During that time, Yukon government’s consultation with First Nations included government-to-government engagement as well as meetings of the oil and gas MOA working group,” Kent said, indicating that the working group had met twice.

Kent pointed out that after consultation closed, two substantive changes were made.

One section in the act – which addressed the negotiation process for benefits agreements – had been deferred to enable further dialogue with First Nations.

“We also extended the opportunity for the extension of leases,” Kent said.

“This was something that we heard from industry. This wasn’t strictly a government-to-government consultation with First Nations. It involved the public. It also involved industry.”

The What We Heard document from the consultation period shows a mixed bag of support and opposition for the permit extension, which in the document, is limited; a one‐time extension of two years.

One respondent in support said, “As long as the permit holder can demonstrate a rational need for an extended permit term, there should be legislative provisions which allow the government to grant any number of extensions of any duration.”

Another simply stated, “There has been no evidence produced that indicates 10 years is insufficient.”

In the legislature, Kent noted that he had provided a copy of the letter from the chiefs to his incoming deputy minister, in order to respond to the First Nations.

So far, the legislation has only passed first reading.

Another MOA working group meeting was scheduled for this week.

The chiefs of the three First Nations were unavailable for comment.

Comments (9)

Up 3 Down 0

WR get a life on Nov 18, 2015 at 1:30 pm

Because you show to be negative that just create problems.

Up 4 Down 11

Werner Rhein on Nov 16, 2015 at 9:32 pm

I can only hope that the FN including the Grand Chief are standing up against this.
By the way, where are the 8000 people who signed the petition against fracking.
Over 80 % of the possible oil or gas potentials are shale formation in the Yukon. Shale means fracking, it doesn't matter how much the YP tries to avoid that word, it is what it is.
But the main thing is the Yukon doesn't need an Oil & Gas Industry. We lived just fine so far and instead wasting more money on a dead horse we really should start investing into alternative green energy.
YESAB is open for comment on the new extended proposals from Northern Cross Yukon for their development ideas up on the Dempster. They still have plenty of flaws in them; no proper baseline data collection, no means of depositing radioactive drill and fracking waste, no real plan of dealing with the permafrost and with the porcupine herds.
So people please go and write your comments, you can't come afterwards and say your were not consulted. The comment period is open til December 09, 2015.
Pasloski tries to push this through before he is ousted.

Up 5 Down 3

BB on Nov 16, 2015 at 5:15 pm

to JC et al:
I'm not sure where you or your ancestors come from but this FN got theirs and non-FN got theirs is not how it is in the Yukon. The Final Agreements are very much inclusive about CO-MANAGEMENT of the land, water, and resources then any separatist of them and us mentality. If you really want to know what it is about I recommend you read the original document, "together today for our children tomorrow." http://www.eco.gov.yk.ca/pdf/together_today_for_our_children_tomorrow.pdf
And in regards to your own quote, "...(FN) not to have been consulted on adequately" without details. The details are that the wording in the draft changed without the first nations engagement from 12 years to "beyond 10 years" and also from the article, "Kent pointed out that after consultation closed, two substantive changes were made."

Up 9 Down 14

Just Say'in on Nov 16, 2015 at 2:03 pm

WHAT? This Rankled the First Nation? Are you kidding? Everything Rankles the First Nations. I would only be surprised if they ever agreed with something.

Up 56 Down 13

Read the ------ Ageements on Nov 15, 2015 at 11:39 am

Hey JC, before you comment on FN Land Claim Agreements, I suggest you read one, cause right now you are looking like just another neo con, reformist troll...

Up 26 Down 70

JC on Nov 12, 2015 at 9:51 pm

The Aboriginal's claims "not to have been consulted on adequately" is being overused. Notice they never mention any details. Because there never is any. The way I see it, the FN got their land claims and the non FN have theirs. Keep out of ours and we will keep out of yours. That way we should all live happily.

Up 36 Down 19

These folks don't get it on Nov 12, 2015 at 4:35 pm

Bye Bye Mr. DP to the Yukon levy, hello someone new with common sense.
The group to remove the bad gov't.

Up 46 Down 34

Lost in the Yukon on Nov 12, 2015 at 3:46 pm

The Yukon Party continues to show its blatant disrespect for First Nations by essentially doing what it did with Bill S-6, slipping in changes under the cover of darkness. It's not that they are stupid, rather it shows their arrogance towards and contempt of First Nations.

The Pharmacist thinks offering the head of CYFN a free trip to Paris will buy him votes ... First Nations should and will take every cent and perk the Pharmacist offers over the next year and then vote ABYP.

In handing over tax payer dollars in record amounts (such as for the French high school), the Pharmacist will further put the Yukon's finances in the toilet.


Up 48 Down 25

June Jackson on Nov 12, 2015 at 3:16 pm

FN should press hard. The Paslowski government is buying your votes like crazy right now.. building you a housing area, taking your chief to Paris.. now is the time for you to push.

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