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Trudeau will keep promise on Bill S-6: Yukon Liberal leader

The federal Liberals will deliver on a key election promise, one that likely helped incoming Yukon MP Larry Bagnell clinch the seat with an overwhelming majority.

Sandy Silver spoke with Prime minister-designate Justin Trudeau on Monday

Justin Trudeau met with Yukon Liberal leader Sandy Silver during Trudeau's visit to Whitehorse in June 2013. Silver says he spoke with the prime minister-designate on Monday about repealing problematic sections of Bill S-6. (CBC)

Prime minister-designate Justin Trudeau will keep his promise to repeal the problematic sections of Bill S-6, Yukon Liberal leader Sandy Silver said.

Silver spoke briefly with Trudeau on Monday.

"It was a really quick conversation," Silver said. "He's a really, really busy man."

Silver reminded Trudeau of a key election promise — if elected, the federal Liberals would do away with the unpopular portions of a bill that amended Yukon's Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act. Bill S-6 passed in the last parliament, before the federal election.

Yukon First Nations strenuously fought the four amendments for much of last year. They say the changes undermine the integrity of their final land claims agreements. Three First Nations filed a lawsuit just days before the Oct. 19 election.

"The four amendments did not have the 'duty to consult' in them, and we were thrilled to hear that [Trudeau] was of the same belief and he was sticking to his commitment," Silver said.

"It is the Liberal Party of Canada's opinion that no bill should go forth without that duty to consult."

Silver said there's no firm timetable on exactly when the legislation will be amended in Ottawa, given that the new parliament will not sit immediately.

But Silver added that it's important the changes be made not only for Yukon First Nations but also for the territory's economy. Mining industry representatives took the unusual step of asking the previous Conservative government to reach an agreement with First Nations on the issue of Bill S-6, saying that such disputes impede the viability of doing business in the territory.

Yukon premier Darrell Pasloski, once a vigorous supporter of Bill S-6, has since softened his stance. He told the Yukon legislature on Monday and again on Tuesday that his government "would not be a barrier" to any changes introduced by the new federal government. 

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