Whitehorse Daily Star

Image title

Photo by Vince Fedoroff

INCREDULITY ON THE OPPOSITION BENCHES – Yukon Party MLA Scott Kent (bottom left) and interim Opposition Leader Stacey Hassard (beside Kent) react to a statement from a Liberal cabinet minister during Tuesday’s question period in the legislature. Geraldine Van Bibber is beside Hassard, while in the top row, left to right, are MLAs Brad Cathers, Patti McLeod and Wade Istchenko. Inset Ranj Pillai

YP challenged on statements in legislature

The Yukon Party made two accusations about the territorial Liberals

By Taylor Blewett on October 4, 2017

The Yukon Party made two accusations about the territorial Liberals in the legislative assembly Tuesday, both of which have since been disputed as untrue by the parties involved.

Official Opposition Leader Stacey Hassard told the house that he had received a call earlier that day from Premier Sandy Silver, telling him the premier would not be pushing for an extension to the federal government’s consultation period on controversial small business tax changes.

According to Hassard, Silver told him he now felt a longer consultation period would create “uncertainty in business.”

Silver was in Ottawa yesterday for a meeting between the federal government and the premiers.

Hassard’s assertion comes nearly a week after the Yukon premier sent a letter to federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau, asking him to extend the government’s 75-day public consultations and inviting him to the Yukon to hear the concerns of the business community firsthand.

“I guess that’s the scary part,” Hassard told reporters Tuesday.

“That was only just a few days ago that the premier promised to stand up for Yukon businesses and that quickly, he’s flip-flopped on this and changed his mind. It’s very concerning.”

However, deputy premier Ranj Pillai dismissed Hassard’s claims as “spin.”

He said the government remains committed to its request for a longer consultation period on behalf of Yukon businesses.

“I certainly wasn’t on the phone today,” said Pillai in a post-sitting scrum.

“But what I know is that in communication with the premier, his remarks are not consistent with what was stated today by the leader of the Yukon Party.”

Yukon NDP Leader Liz Hanson said she also spoke with the premier over the phone yesterday, and that he didn’t say anything about withdrawing his support for extended consultations.

He did tell her, however, that he and the other premiers had just met with Morneau.

‘Significant debate’

While “the case had been made about the need for an extension” and the meeting saw “significant debate” on the issue, said Hanson, Silver reported the Finance minister seemed unwilling to budge on the length of the consultation period.

“I’m not trying to defend the Yukon Liberals because we’ve got lots of disagreements, but his letter was pretty clear; they were seeking an extension to the consultation,” she said.

Hassard also told the media that during their phone call, Silver said the Liberals would not be supporting the motion the Yukon Party introduced in the legislature Tuesday afternoon.

That motion called on the house to urge the federal government to “extend public consultation on its proposed changes to tax law affecting small businesses, farmers, placer miners, and medical practitioners and to ensure that Yukon citizens have an opportunity to fully participate in the public consultation.”

Had the motion received unanimous consent from the legislative assembly, it could have been debated and passed yesterday.

It did not, however, and a Yukon Party press release said the government’s failure to support the motion was another instance of the premier “rolling over to Ottawa and failing to defend the interests of Yukoners.”

Pillai called the motion “gamesmanship” and “redundant.”

He said the government has already listened to Yukoners and has carried out the actions urged by the motion, evidenced by the premier’s letter to Morneau and his presence in Ottawa.

“Was it important to have the Yukon Party bring a debate forward and have this repetition in activity? No, we didn’t believe that,” said Pillai.

“The premier’s (in Ottawa) today, having that discussion, standing by premiers from across this country on the fact that small business feels that they have more to say.”

Yukon Party finance critic Brad Cathers also claimed Tuesday that the government-appointed financial advisory panel was not being given access to detailed information about the government’s financial situation.

The five-member panel was tasked by the Liberals last spring with conducting an independent assessment of government finances as it heads into several years of budgetary deficits.

It is currently holding public consultations about the options available for the government to deal with looming deficits expected for the next several years.

Cathers told the house that the Yukon Party had met with the panel, and had been told that it was not “given detailed access to the government’s books to do a full and proper analysis of the government’s financial picture.”

He questioned why the government was spending “a quarter-million dollars of taxpayers’ money on this flawed consultation process.”

The Star spoke Tuesday afternoon with Trevor Tombe, a member of the panel and professor of economics at the University of Calgary.

“We’ve been given access to absolutely everything that we needed, I honestly couldn’t think of what else we could want to do the work we are still doing,” Tombe said.

A lot of information about government financing is publicly available and consequently doesn’t require special permission to access, Tombe pointed out.

However, the panel did need to request certain information like that about territorial formula financing, the key source of government funding from Ottawa.

When they did so, they were granted that information, he said.

The financial panel met with Cathers and Hassard on Sept. 15.

Information public

Norman McIntyre, the financial panel’s chair, told the Star this morning that panel members may have mentioned in this meeting that they were using publicly available information to assess the current status of government finances and make projections.

Because their mandate is only to present various options the government can use to balance its books, McIntyre said, the panel doesn’t need to pore over the kind of detailed information in those books that the Yukon Party suggests they don’t have access to.

“It’s more high-level than that.”

McIntyre speculated that the panel’s comments in their September meeting were likely “inadvertently taken out of context” by Cathers in his question period statements Tuesday.

Comments (11)

Up 1 Down 0

Igor J. on Oct 10, 2017 at 3:20 pm

Man, look at the embarrassment on the face of Geraldine Van Bibber. She is a classy woman, probably wondering what she is doing sitting next to those buffoons.

Up 25 Down 16

Rick of the Universe on Oct 5, 2017 at 12:57 pm

How many of the 280 people that actually voted for Hassard last year will now admit to doing so ?

Up 21 Down 15

BnR on Oct 5, 2017 at 6:57 am

Tax slave
Free enterprise is good for one thing and one thing only, making money. Not for providing services to the public. Our neighbours to the South have shown how well a businessman does at running a government.
You know what taxes buy? Civilization.
And if you for minute actually think we are in a communist system, you need to go back to school and pay attention this time.

Up 34 Down 19

Alvin Smeets on Oct 5, 2017 at 5:33 am

Hazzard being confused is not surprising as he didn't even know that contracts over 1 million dollars should go out to tender not cronied out when his group were mismanaging things so horrifically. He's never sure who told him what.
Kent with his ever increasing theatrics should have stayed with a winner instead of traitorously joining the 'good ol boys' in their realization that politics in the Yukon has changed. Go millennials, let's progress forget the archaic "Yukon Party".

Up 17 Down 26

June Jackson on Oct 5, 2017 at 2:29 am

The Liberals are doing a terrible job..I am so disappointed that I track Trudeau on a Federal level.. then pass the information to all of my news venues that I post in... http://www.bigbluewave.ca/p/justin-trudeau-links.html God forbid we ever get another Federal Liberal Government.. At home, the Liberals have followed the party line, buried us in debt, and now going after the means income testing in order for anyone to access a government service..you're taxes do not entitle you to a damned thing.. we are actually going to be punished for working.. I asked Silver to respond, but he didn't.. Don't trust a word they say.. crooked as crap.. Maybe as soon as anyone gets elected their brains fall out their ear.. in the end, the Pasloski government had to go..and look what we got..another bad government. I'm really just sick of all of them. Hassard, Hanson, Silver..Same brand from all of them.

Up 26 Down 15

Paradise on Oct 5, 2017 at 12:41 am

@taxslave

If you want an end to taxes (and therefore government) you should move to Somalia. All the freedom you want and no government to steal your hard earned money. Also no gun control! It’s pretty much a conservative’s dream.....so why not gather up your buddies....leave the horrible oppressive place called Canada and move there.

Up 33 Down 18

warlord on Oct 4, 2017 at 9:42 pm

Every YP MLA is an amateur politician, some with very dubious track records.

Up 29 Down 18

Hugh Mungus on Oct 4, 2017 at 6:45 pm

Hassard should be embarrassed. He is completely out of his element. And his sock puppet Kent is just as bad. It's really says something when Brad 'high pants' Cathers is the best they've got.

Up 57 Down 37

Dan Davidson on Oct 4, 2017 at 4:15 pm

As another analyst has pointed out, the YP is basically following the old CPC playbook: say it nasty, say it often, tie it only loosely to reality, and hope that some of the garbage (another word is often used here) will stick to the wall. Opposition parties should point out real flaws, not invent them.

Up 55 Down 38

Allan Foster on Oct 4, 2017 at 3:17 pm

Sanctimonious Stacey's sniveling diatribes are worthy of the mean girls table in a Middle School lunchroom.
Right Wing politics in this Territory is in desperate need of some new talent.

Would someone who understand the difference between Federal and Territorial politics and basic International economics PLEASE run for the leadership of the Pasloski Party.

Up 46 Down 25

tax slave on Oct 4, 2017 at 3:01 pm

End the extortion. End the theft. End the endless lies.
Cut taxes, cut red tape and let free enterprise solve the problems that a centrally planned communist method of government and debt slavery cannot.
Thanks

Add your comments or reply via Twitter @whitehorsestar

In order to encourage thoughtful and responsible discussion, website comments will not be visible until a moderator approves them. Please add comments judiciously and refrain from maligning any individual or institution. Read about our user comment and privacy policies.

Your name and email address are required before your comment is posted. Otherwise, your comment will not be posted.