Yukon premier Darrell Pasloski told CBC News today that land claims and self government agreements do not give First Nations the authority to make decisions on Crown land, and that’s the reason the territorial government filed an appeal in the Peel watershed court case.
"When it comes to public land, it should be the publicly, democratically-elected government that should be able to have the final say," he said.
Pasloski spoke for the first time Tuesday morning about his government’s controversial decision to appeal the Yukon Supreme Court decision last month that overturned the Yukon government’s land use plan.
“It’s not only the right thing to do,” Pasloski told Sandi Coleman on A New Day. “I think it’s the responsible thing to do, because the outcome of this case can have significant implications.”
Justice Ron Veale’s decision Dec. 2 effectively quashed the government's land use plan for the region — a plan that allowed more room for development than one recommended by a regional land use planning commission. The appeal has put land use planning on hold across the territory.
Pasloski says his government decided to appeal to make sure that "a democratically-elected government" maintains final say over what happens to public lands.
"Commissions are not elected and they’re not accountable," he said.
Pasloski says that land claims agreements do not give First Nations veto power over what happens on Crown land.
"Self-governing First Nations have ceded and surrendered those rights,” he said. “First Nations make final decisions on settlement land. And First Nations participate in the decisions on public land — but they don't have the final say."
Pasloski says the Peel case will set the bar for all Yukon land use planning and the government needs to establish the ground rules now.
Pasloski said he doesn't think the Peel land use plan needs to be decided by referendum. He says voters can make their opinions known at the next territorial election.