Whitehorse Daily Star

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Mayor Dan Curtis and Coun. Laura Cabott

‘Not my finest or my best hour,’ Curtis says

Mayor Dan Curtis offered regret and an apology to Coun. Laura Cabott at Monday’s city council meeting.

By Chuck Tobin on December 2, 2020

Mayor Dan Curtis offered regret and an apology to Coun. Laura Cabott at Monday’s city council meeting.

“I would also like to say I have no excuse for my behaviour last week and I would like to acknowledge on my part, I was out of line,” he said in offering his apology to Cabott, and to other members of council.

The mayor apologized for making a suggestion out of the blue last week that Cabott, as chair of the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board (YESAB) may be in a conflict of interest with her participation in discussions regarding the city’s wildfire risk reduction strategy.

There had been concerns whispered into his ear, the mayor said last week.

He opened Monday’s comments by saying Cabott’s integrity is beyond reproach, that the councillor is completely transparent who works hard on behalf of the city and its residents.

Cabott must have felt blindsided by a truck with his suggestion she may be in a conflict of interest, the mayor said.

Curtis said Cabott has never done that to him, nor has any member of council.

“It just slipped out, and again I have no excuse other than to say I’m sorry,” Curtis said. “I think I did do a study on how not to do it.

“I would like to think I can lead by example and help council if they stumble. On this, it is I who stumbled.

“My actions are incredibly regrettable. Not my finest or my best hour, and for this I am truly sorry.”

Curtis said he hoped both Cabott and the rest of council can forgive him in time for what he said was inappropriate behaviour.

Cabott declined last week to respond to Curtis’ question regarding a conflict of interest, though Coun. Dan Boyd did come to her defence.

Boyd, who was chairing that segment of the meeting last week, told Curtis it was unfair to Cabott to raise the issue out of the blue in an open council meeting, with no prior notice.

Cabott did provide a response at this week’s meeting. She said she felt it was important to respond.

As a lawyer for the past 28 years, she said, she knows what conflict of interest is, as she deals with it almost every day.

She told council Monday she had checked all the pertinent legislation and guiding policies such as the Municipal Act, the city’s procedure bylaw and the city’s code of conduct.

She said she looked at conflict of interest policy bylaws for the assessment board.

“I want to assure my fellow council members, city staff and residents of Whitehorse that I am not in a conflict of interest,” Cabott said.

“Nor could it reasonably be perceived I’m in a conflict of interest with regard to the Wildfire Management Strategy and Action Plan.”

She said she takes her role on council and her role as chair of the assessment board very seriously and would not want to put those responsibilities in jeopardy, nor would she want to jeopardize the public trust.

Cabott said as a guiding document, most activities in the Wildfire Management Strategy will not be subject to a review by YESAB.

Establishing fuel breaks that may arise out of the strategy could trigger a review, she said.

Cabott said that assessment would be conducted by the board’s designated office in Whitehorse, and would be carried out completely independent of the central executive committee the councillor chairs, as per the rules.

The councillor said she agreed with Boyd’s comments last week suggesting there are better ways to deal with conflict of interest concerns, rather than bringing them up at an open council meeting with no prior notice to herself or anybody else.

“I trust this clarifies matters, and I appreciate having been given the opportunity to speak to this tonight,” Cabott concluded.

Comments (11)

Up 25 Down 13

My Opinion on Dec 3, 2020 at 4:07 pm

Since when is it inappropriate to bring a potential conflict into question. Somebody gets a hurt feeling? So fill out a hurt feeling report and get on with it.

I bet our Lawyer sent a letter threatening to sue, that's what I think.

Up 16 Down 7

My Opinion on Dec 3, 2020 at 4:04 pm

Haha. It just makes me laugh and I get some satisfaction in a weird way watching the virtue signalling left get caught in their own PC traps. Funny actually.

Up 23 Down 5

Just Sayin' on Dec 3, 2020 at 3:32 pm

YukonMax,
Of course there has to be accountability, and there is a time for making something public. The issue here is that Dan claimed there may be a conflict of interest when there wasn't any. He should have done some investigating before potentially destroying a person's reputation in public. YukonMax, if someone thought you were engaged in a conflict of interest, would you want that person to approach you first, or would you want them make a public statement about your actions without knowing all the facts?

Up 8 Down 16

Just Sayin' on Dec 3, 2020 at 3:28 pm

Josey,
It actually wasn't that dramatic. Dan could and may have damaged Laura's reputation by what he said. Her response was reasonable and level-headed, and Dan was right to publicly apologize.

Of course, you won't see it that way since you aren't a fan of "King Dan", as you put it.

Up 31 Down 2

CGI on Dec 3, 2020 at 11:54 am

Wow, now that's an apology. Good for Dan. Interesting to find that he can be as effusive in that as he is about other stuff.
Re Laura Cabott's assurances, leaving aside this particular issue, it is a little amusing to find that she's consulted herself in depth and taken her substantial experience into consideration and her own interpretation of the matter finds herself not in conflict. That certainly sets the bar.

Up 14 Down 14

Wilf Carter on Dec 3, 2020 at 10:05 am

Mr Mayor, Back streets in Whitehorse are now a health risk because people are having hard time driving on them with small cars.
People who are shut in's and need health care means people trying to get to them will not be able to or take much longer to get to them.
People with disabilities who need health care now will have to wait like a person who cannot bath themselves or need meds on regulator basis.

Up 30 Down 5

YukonMax on Dec 3, 2020 at 8:28 am

Me think that the "self declared conflict of interest" is B.S.
If a conflict exist, it should be exposed, period. It is also a duty to preserve accountability. We hardly hear of anyone declaring a conflict on their own. Many times when it happens, the individual is discouraged to do so. To preserve the status quo. To say that an "elected official" has the "credibility" to self declare is ludicrous and archaic in this day and age.

Up 22 Down 17

Josey Wales on Dec 3, 2020 at 7:16 am

Wow...sure a lot of drama and hurt feelings over a question?
Our entire community has fallen into a cesspool of disrepair, folks are being treated by political blowholes as ABSOLUTE subjects to "obey" dictates by OTHER political blowholes...and this gobsmacking drama makes the cut?

What a shameful mess these many types of political blowholes have made of our communities and YES "OUR" lives.
Gotta say, no fan of King Dan...but so effin what he asked a question she was not prepared for...yeah WTF...ever.

Failing to plan, is planning to fail and many (not all) of our many many maaaaany political blowholes could not plan a birthday party.
Further more the "conflict of interest" allegation?
COI is the lubricity that keeps these corrupt blowholes and their minions all flush, expanding their empires, feathering a nest with gold.
Most Dragons are merchants of deceit and lovers of gold.

Too many Dragons in our lands IMO.

Up 39 Down 12

jack on Dec 3, 2020 at 1:05 am

There have to serious questions about this Mayor's continuous poor judgement and fitness for the job.

Up 33 Down 3

Juniper Jackson on Dec 3, 2020 at 12:13 am

A ''stash? too.. well anyway Dan.. Not your finest hour... but really really not your worst either.

Up 40 Down 4

Nathan Living on Dec 2, 2020 at 5:25 pm

Taking responsibility and apologizing is a powerful thing.

I wish Dan would apologize to Whitehorse residents for a number of other things which I will leave up to other commenters to articulate.

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