Yukon opposition asks government to apologize for Bill S-6

Yukon's opposition parties wasted no time pouncing on the Yukon Party government to account for its involvement in Bill S-6, days after the federal government announced it would repeal the controversial legislation.

Controversial legislation, once touted by Yukon, to be repealed by federal government

'Will the premier now acknowledge the damage that his unilateral attempts to undermine YESAA caused?' asked Yukon NDP Leader Liz Hanson. (CBC)

Yukon's opposition parties wasted no time pouncing on the Yukon Party government to account for its involvement in Bill S-6, days after the federal government announced it would repeal the controversial legislation

Bill S-6 amended Yukon's Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act (YESAA), and was passed by the Conservative government last year.

Yukon First Nations vehemently opposed four of the changes, saying they undermined final land claims agreements.

In the Yukon legislature on Monday, both official opposition NDP Leader Liz Hanson and Liberal Leader Sandy Silver served up a dish of humble pie to Premier Darrell Pasloski.

"Will the premier now acknowledge the damage that his unilateral attempts to undermine YESAA caused, and apologize to Yukon First Nations governments, Yukon businesses and Yukon citizens?" Hanson asked. 

The Yukon government had initially endorsed Bill S-6, saying the changes would help the investment climate.

Pasloski said reconciliation with Yukon First Nations is ongoing, pointing to his recent stint as a referee at the Yukon Native Hockey Tournament. (CBC)

But since the federal Liberals swept to power last fall, the Yukon government has gone out of its way to call S-6 "federal legislation" and say the territory "won't be a barrier" if the new government changes it. The Liberals had campaigned on a promise to scrap the S-6 provisions.

Pasloski said Monday the Yukon government is looking for an assessment process that is "consistent with other jurisdictions, allowing this jurisdiction to remain competitive."

Silver said Bill S-6 instead caused regulatory uncertainty, and an 18 per cent drop in exploration this year.

"Will the premier now take responsibility for the regulatory uncertainty raised by this government's failed YESAA review?" Silver asked. 

"Ongoing court battles with First Nations and regulatory uncertainty have tarnished our reputation as a good place to do business."

Pasloski stuck to his message that S-6 was federal legislation. He also chose to highlight an unusual example of how reconciliation with Yukon First Nations is ongoing.

"I will give an example of one that occurred very recently, and that was the 39th annual Native Hockey Tournament," where Pasloski works as a referee.

"There are many paths towards reconciliation and we will continue to work together with the First Nations as we move forward," he said.