Environmental and indigenous groups are cheering a landmark decision by Canada’s highest court on Friday, which ordered the Yukon Territorial Government to abide by a negotiated plan to preserve one of the largest intact wilderness areas in North America.
The Supreme Court of Canada’s unanimous decision marks the end of a three-year legal battle between the Yukon government and a coalition of indigenous First Nations and environmental groups over the future of the Peel Watershed, a wildlife-rich region of mountains and rivers that also has significant deposits of gas, coal, iron, and other minerals. Roughly the size of the Republic of Ireland, the pristine region was featured in an article in the February 2014 issue of National Geographic.
A commission made up of representatives from the First Nations and the Yukon government spent seven years negotiating the fate of the Peel Watershed via a process laid out in land claims agreements signed by Yukon First Nations and the federal and territorial governments. The commission produced a final recommendation in 2011 to keep 80 percent of the watershed roadless and off-limits to resource extractors.
Anyone think the US Supreme Court – with its supply of Republican pimps for corporate mining interests – would ever have the integrity and wisdom to produce a similar ruling here in the states?