Bill C-17, which would rescind some controversial changes made to the Yukon Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment Act (YESAA) by Stephen Harper's government, has passed third reading in the House of Commons. 

"It's a pretty exciting day for Yukon," said Yukon MP Larry Bagnell.

The amendments to YESAA were included in Bill S-6, which was passed by the Harper government in 2015. The amendments were controversial because Yukon First Nations said they violated their land claims agreements. 

Indigenous leaders also said they weren't consulted on Bill S-6.

They four contentious amendments were: 

  • delegation of federal powers to Yukon government;
  • policy direction to the YESAA  board;
  • timelines for assessments; and  
  • exemptions from renewals and amendments

Bagnell agreed that those amendments went against the spirit in which YESAA was created. He campaigned in 2015 on a promise to see them repealed.

'Not in the spirit'

Yukon First Nations must be involved in amending YESAA because the Act was created as part of the Umbrella Final Agreement (UFA). That's the template for land claims settlement agreements between Yukon First Nations, the Yukon government, and the Canadian government.

Kwanlin Dun drummers

Kwanlin Dün First Nation drummers interrupted parliamentary hearings on Bill S-6 in Whitehorse, in March 2015. Indigenous leaders said amendments to YESAA violated their land claims agreements. (Mike Rudyk/CBC)

The four contentious changes to YESAA were tagged onto Bill S-6 after several years of negotiation, says Bagnell.

"That's not in the spirit, or probably not even the law, of legislation emanating from the UFA," Bagnell said.

"These things have to be done properly." 

Now C-17 goes before the Senate, where it will have three readings, as well. Bagnell is not sure how long that might take.