CBC – Supreme Court rules in favour of Yukon First Nations in Peel watershed dispute. Unanimous decision requires gov’t to consider independent commission’s plan, gov’t sought to restart process
The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled in favour of Yukon First Nations in their fight to protect the Peel watershed region, overturning a decision that rolled back years of planning and ordering the government to consider a final recommended plan proposed by an independent commission.
The unanimous ruling released Friday ends a five-year legal battle between the Yukon government and a group of First Nations and environmental groups. The case was fought in territorial courts before the First Nations and environmental groups appealed to the country’s highest court.
In the ruling Friday, written by Justice Andromache Karakatsanis, the court upheld a ruling by a trial judge to quash the territorial government’s final land use plan, ordering the planning process to resume at an earlier stage. Changes made by the territorial government’s land use plan “did not respect the Chapter 11 process,” the decision reads.
“Respect for this process is especially important where, as here, the planning area includes First Nations’ traditional territories within non-settlement areas.
… Gordon Christie, a law professor at the University of British Columbia, expects the top court’s decision to have ‘far-reaching consequences’ beyond Yukon. (UBC) Yukon’s mistake was in ignoring what’s clearly spelled out in the UFA, he says.
“There’s supposed to be some collaborative process of decision making, and we need to see that upheld by the court,” Christie said. “The Yukon government is in that old mode of thinking, ‘Well, at the end of the day, we’re the government and we get to decide.’ So I’m really curious to see what the Supreme Court of Canada says about that.”