The Yukon Party is misleading voters when it says it can't share its position on the Peel watershed plan until consultations are completed, four First Nation leaders say in an open letter to Yukoners.
There is no legitimate reason for Yukon Party candidates not to answer questions about the final recommended land use plan, say Na-cho Nyak Dun chief Simon Mervyn, Tr'ondek Hwech'in chief Eddie Taylor, Vuntut Gwitchin chief Norma Kassi and Gwich'in Tribal Council president Richard Nerysoo in the letter released on Tuesday.
Political parties are expected to tell people where they stand on important issues, but the Yukon Party has failed to do that, they say.
When asked about the Peel plan, Yukon Party leader Darrell Pasloski always says it's inappropriate for his party to comment until the consultation process is finished.
But the chiefs say that's false.
They also say Pasloski's comments about the cost of compensating Peel claim-holders is "misguided and verging on fear-mongering."
At his weekly news conference on Wednesday, Pasloski fended off the criticism, saying he thinks there can be a balance between mining and the environment.
"I'm saying that I believe that Yukoners are looking for common ground and common sense and that they want to have everybody come back to the table," he said.
"I don't believe that they're thinking that there has to be winners and losers. I don't believe that you can accept a plan without knowing all the information."
Pasloski said he'd achieve consensus on the Peel as the Yukon Party did with the North Yukon land use plan.
Meanwhile, conservation groups say they now have confirmation the Yukon government deliberately ignored the public input it received during the last round of consultations on the Peel land use plan in 2010.
Documents obtained through access-to-information show 87 per cent of respondents wanted more than 80 per cent of the watershed protected, says Karen Baltgailis, executive director of the Yukon Conservation Society.
"Although the Yukon government was aware that the public input was overwhelmingly in favour of protection, they aren't doing anything about it.," she said.
"They haven't done anything about it and they don't seem to intend to do anything about it. That should give voters an idea of where the Yukon Party is going with this."
Pasloski is also exaggerating the cost of compensating mineral claim holders in the Peel by using "vastly inflated speculations," Baltgailis said.