The below questionnaire was submitted to each of Yukon’s federal candidates from the Council of Yukon First Nations on September 8th, 2015. Included are Larry Bagnell and the Liberal Party of Canada’s response to each issue.
It is the Yukon First Nation’s position that certain amendments to the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Act (YESAA), proposed by Bill S-6, undermine the spirit and intent of our Final Agreements. The unilateral changes to YESAA are a breach of our agreements. If elected, what will you and your party do to right the wrong Bill S-6 imposed on the Yukon?
The Liberal Party will repeal the four offending amendments; we confirmed this to Yukon’s chiefs in a letter from Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett in July of this year (Included for your reference).
As the MP who shepherded the YESAA Legislation and several Yukon Land Claim and self-Government Agreements through Parliament, it is important for me that the spirit of the Legislation developed by equal tripartite partners maintain the integrity of the process of the Government to Government to Government relationship. That is why I spoke passionately at the two large public forums against this unilateral imposition on Yukoners; and why the Liberal MP’s fought so passionately against this affront to Yukoners and their Treaties.
The Liberal Party support resource development projects that respect our natural environment, earn the trust of local communities, and consult with affected Indigenous groups. Unfortunately the changes proposed in Bill S-6, particularly those impacting the Yukon, failed to meet that criteria.
In addition to undermining ongoing treaty relationships between the Crown and Yukon First Nations, this bill has jeopardized development in the Yukon by eroding legal certainty. This will have significant adverse consequences for all Yukoners.
Our Party proposed a number of amendments to the bill during the committee process. Unfortunately, the Conservative majority on the committee voted down all of our proposed amendments. It was disappointing that incumbent Conservative candidate Ryan Leef refused to stand up for his constituents, and instead acquiesced to the Prime Minister’s wish to actively help push this flawed bill through Parliament.
Bill S-6 has endangered the credibility and effectiveness of environmental assessments in the Yukon. In order to properly restore the credibility in our environmental assessments, a Liberal government will ensure that the Crown is fully executing its constitutional duty to consult and respect Aboriginal Peoples on project reviews and assessments as well as replace Harper’s changes to the environmental assessments with a new, comprehensive, timely, and fair process that restores robust oversight. A Liberal government will repeal the problematic elements of Bill S-6 and work collaboratively with Yukon First Nations in the spirit of partnership, respect and cooperation for mutual benefit.
Self-government Agreements empower Yukon Self-Governing First Nations to govern ourselves in a manner that is responsive to the needs and interests of our people. Acting in good faith and ensuring that our agreements are implemented is crucial to their success. The Government of Canada signed these agreements and often seems to forget its obligations. How will you and your government ensure that the implementation of our agreements is a priority; is done in a timely manner; and respects their spirit and intent?
One of my highest priorities when I was in the House of Commons and since, is the fair implementation of Land Claims. The Land Claim was not the end of a negotiation, but the beginning of a relationship, a relationship that is now broken.
The Liberal Party will work with First Nations to re-design how Canada negotiates and fully implements modern treaties. This includes revisiting the flawed and recently released document on Canada’s Fiscal approach to self-Government. We will maintain the Honour of the Crown by maintaining the spirit of Government to Government relationships. It is also important to emphasize to all federal departments, that the Land Claims and Self-Government Agreements were signed between First Nations and the Government of Canada, not just the Department of Aboriginal Affairs; all federal departments are responsible for their implementation.
Liberals will immediately re-engage in a renewed, respectful and inclusive nation-to-nation process with Indigenous Peoples to advance progress on the issues prioritized by First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities – issues like housing, infrastructure, health and mental health care, community safety and policing, child welfare, and education.
We will also ensure that the Kelowna Accord – and the spirit of reconciliation that drove it – is embraced, and its objectives implemented in a manner that meets today’s challenges. We will make up for 10 long, lost years.
There are a staggering number of missing and murdered Aboriginal women across the country, a problem that has visited the Yukon, as well. What is your position on a national inquiry for missing and murdered Aboriginal women?
I have been a strong advocate for an inquiry into Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women and have participated in one of the marches calling for the inquiry across the country; and spoke passionately at the rally afterwards.
A Liberal government will immediately launch a National Public Inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada. The process by which it is established will be fully inclusive, designed to find justice for the victims and healing for their families.
An inquiry would seek to recommend concrete actions that governments, law enforcement, and others can take to solve these crimes and avoid future ones. Not by ignoring uncomfortable truths, but by understanding and taking action to deal with the root causes of this national tragedy, will be able to eliminate these all too common devastating events for First Nation women and girls and their families.
I believe that Victims of Families must have an important role in this Commission and be supported in their participation. While this Inquiry is underway, I believe there are many recommendations from First Nations women leaders, victims’ families, and other studies that can begin to be implemented right away.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) completed their work this year, and made 94 broad and diverse recommendations for repairing the relationship between First Nations and Canada, a vital step in making our country whole. Of those recommendations, what do you see as the most important to address? What will your party do to ensure the recommendations made by the TRC are implemented?
I have been deeply moved and saddened by my 30 years of hearing the stories and effects of residential schools on Aboriginal people across Canada, including at the Whitehorse hearings of the TRC. All the recommendations of the TRC are important to address. Many critical ones are already supported in major announcements in our Platform such as the $2.6 billion dollars for Aboriginal Education. In addition we will re-open Kelowna Accord type arrangements with a focus on housing, infrastructure, health and mental health care, community safety and policing, and child welfare.
The Liberal Party will support the work of reconciliation and continue the necessary process of truth telling and healing, we will work with First Nations to enact the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, starting with the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
As a matter of national priority, we will develop a Federal Reconciliation Framework, created in full partnership with Indigenous Peoples.
We know that reconciliation starts with recognizing and respecting Aboriginal title and rights, including treaty rights. A Liberal government will do just that. Not only in accordance with Constitutional obligations, but also with those enshrined in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples -something the current government has steadfastly refused to do.
To this end, we will conduct a full review of the legislation unilaterally imposed on Indigenous Peoples by the Harper government, through the lens of section 35 of the Constitution. Where measures are found to be in conflict with Aboriginal rights, where they are inconsistent with the principles of good governance, or where they simply make no public policy sense, we will rescind them. This Reconciliation Framework will also include mechanisms to resolve grievances associated with existing historical treaties and modern land-claims agreements. The current process simply does not work.
In some cases, the work toward reconciliation is already underway, but efforts are hindered by narrow federal mandates and lack of action. We will work with First Nations to achieve fair and just resolutions. That includes addressing the issue of governance. The Reconciliation Framework will include mechanisms to advance and strengthen self-government.