You say you want a devolution? In Yukon, it’s reality – by Darrell Pasloski (Globe and Mail – March 25, 2013)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

Darrell Pasloski is Premier of Yukon.

The term “devolution” has recently made headlines, with the draft devolution agreement between the Northwest Territories and Canada. For Yukoners, devolution has been a reality for a decade and is a cornerstone that our government has built on to make Yukon one of the most exciting and economically thriving areas of the country.

When a new Yukon Act came into effect on April 1, 2003, it gave Yukon a greater variety of province-like powers to control land, water and resources, make laws and form policies. This devolution of responsibility for lands and resources was a turning point in self-determination and resource management for Yukon. It has resulted in significant changes in Yukon that allow us to work even more effectively with Canada to secure a place of leadership and innovation in the circumpolar world.

Since our devolution deal came into effect, Yukon has done very well. We have experienced steady prosperity, with nine consecutive years of real GDP growth, exceeding the national rate in eight of those nine years. Private-sector contributions to our economy have soared. In the mining sector, a pillar of our economy, three mines have gone into production in the past five years; six more are in permitting and 10 in advanced exploration and feasibility stages.

Mining and mineral exploration are at levels not seen since gold seekers flooded the Klondike in 1898 – people call it the “second Gold Rush.” Tourism generates more than $200-million a year, our work force and population have reached record levels and unemployment has remained consistently lower than the national average.

Devolution gave us the opportunity to expand Yukon’s role on national and international stages. Our strong presence in the North is vital for Arctic sovereignty, and Yukon brings to the table decades of international negotiating experience, an intergovernmental accord with Alaska and an active role in organizations such as the Northern Forum and the Arctic Council. We are ready to assist the federal government when it becomes chair of the council in May.

In addition to devolution, 2013 marks a number of key Yukon anniversaries. It has been 20 years since the signing of the Umbrella Final Agreement, which established a template for Yukon first nation land-claim agreements.

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