Yukon aboriginal group says government disrespecting land claim

The Council of Yukon First Nations says the Yukon Party's plan to re-write the oil and gas act is disrespecting treaties the government signed.

Council of Yukon First Nations say they were not consulted in re-writing of oil and gas law

The Council of Yukon First Nations says the Yukon Government’s plan to re-write the oil and gas act is disrespecting signed treaties.

Grand Chief Ruth Massie was surprised to receive a letter from the government announcing its upcoming changes to the law governing oil and gas development in the Yukon. The two-week notification included a request for comments.

Massie said it's another indication of a government that doesn't understand or care about its responsibilities under land claim agreements.

"We're not very happy with it," she said. "They think a letter to you is consultation and that is not sufficient."

Last week, Energy Minister Brad Cathers defended the move saying his government is going beyond its legal obligations by giving First Nations a chance to comment before the law is changed.

Cathers said his government consulted on the changes three years ago and the recent notification is a courtesy above and beyond its duty to consult.

Massie said the government should expect a backlash if it goes ahead with the proposed changes before meeting with them.

"I hope that the Yukon government will sit down face to face and speak to this because this almost speaks to a public outcry. And I have heard numerous responses to these proposed amendments because it does speak of a lack of transparency and accountability to the public," Massie said.

"We think it is a disrespect to our land claim and self-government processes," she added.

The government has set an Oct. 29 deadline to comment. Massie said Yukon chiefs will try to organize a meeting with Premier Darrell Pasloski before that date.