Whitehorse Daily Star

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STROVE FOR CIVILITY – Premier Sandy Silver, seen Thursday in his office, says he worked to maintain decorum in the house amid streams of daily criticism. Inset Kate White (top), Stacey Hassard (bottom).

Parties sharply divergent on sitting’s success

In reflection of the fall sitting of the legislative assembly, which came to a close Wednesday, Premier Sandy Silver said it was a “progressive” season for his government.

By Gabrielle Plonka on November 29, 2019

In reflection of the fall sitting of the legislative assembly, which came to a close Wednesday, Premier Sandy Silver said it was a “progressive” season for his government.

“Yukoners want their elected officials to do their jobs and advance legislation, advance relations, work on reconciliation, protect our environment; and that’s what we’re doing,” Silver told the Star in an interview Thursday morning.

In this sitting, the government passed seven amended pieces of legislation.

The Tobacco and Vaping Act was modernized to include e-cigarettes and new marketing laws, a social responsibility mandate was added to the Liquor Act and rules for solitary confinement were adjusted in the Corrections Act.

The government also passed the Yukon University Act, establishing the first university North of 60 in Canada, and declared a climate emergency alongside a draft strategy to reduce emissions in the next decade.

Silver noted the increases to legislation posed a challenge to staff and resulted in several days of heated debate in the house.

“It’s tough, it’s tough to get criticized on those pieces of legislation, but it’s so important,” Silver said.

“We’re not shying away from tackling those tough decisions, because Yukoners need that modern legislation.”

The modernization mandate will continue in the spring with changes planned for the Motor Vehicles Act and additional rules for off-road vehicles and recycling, he said.

In the 30 sitting days, the house saw divisive rhetoric dominate nearly every question period.

The government received intense criticism from opposition members on the privatization of the Queen’s Printer and Central Stores, the lack of a forensic audit conducted in the finances of Many Rivers Counselling Services, the nursing shortage in Watson Lake and challenges at the Whitehorse Emergency Shelter.

Silver said he worked to maintain decorum in the house amid the onslaught of criticism.

“I try to reflect on how I behave in opposition,” Silver said. “You try your best to listen to the questions from Yukoners, and try to get rid of the spin. That’s hard to do some days, but that’s the job.”

As the minister for Health and Social Services, the Department of Environment and the Yukon Housing Corp., Pauline Frost saw the majority of this sitting’s difficult issues fall under her mandate and faced the brunt of the criticism.

Despite suggestions from opposition members that Frost’s workload is unmanageable, Silver maintained that she showed strong leadership in this sitting, though he agreed she had her work cut out for her.

“To come in and try and do a mandate but also have to fix the things that were damaged,” Silver said. “She’s doing extraordinary work.”

He lauded her as a “national lead” on housing who brought the inaugural Housing First residence to the Yukon and improved the lives of children in foster care, as well as her expertise in bringing Indigenous considerations to budgeting conversations.

Silver said the work his government has done this sitting has been collaborative among all Liberal MLAs.

He said most decisions were made collectively and aimed to utilize the experience level of every minister.

“You see certain ministers getting the grief in the legislative assembly, but these decisions are made whole of government. That’s the interesting part,” he said.

Interim Opposition Leader Stacey Hassard told media Wednesday afternoon he was disappointed with the government’s performance in question period this sitting.

He noted that questions asked by opposition members were met with answers “out of left field” and lacking in substance.

“Ministers really truly don’t appear to have a handle on their departments yet,” Hassard said.

“We’ve had ministers on their feet on numerous occasions who have not been able to answer basic questions.”

Hassard lamented unanswered questions regarding nursing shortages, over-budget projects, the expected government purchase of the old Salvation Army building and the “cost savings” associated with the cut to Queen’s and Central.

“These questions we bring forward every day, they’re on behalf of our constituents and all Yukoners,” he said. “It’s really unfortunate the government isn’t able to provide us with something more concrete and it’s unfair to the taxpayers of the Yukon.”

Asked to assess the sitting’s successes, Hassard said it “was great to see everyone come together to support CBC” when the national network made moves to curb local programming last week.

Hassard said he will be happy to see the assembly take a week off for the Arctic Winter Games in March, thanks to a motion passed that will allow MLAs to be involved with the event,.

He also said the legislative tribute to the past summer’s passing of ex-premier Dennis Fentie was “a really nice tribute to a great man.”

NDP Leader Kate White said she was disappointed in the Liberal government’s lack of decisive action on a number of key issues, most notably electoral reform and the climate change emergency.

“The draft plan is a good step forward, but we think it could be more ambitious,” White said of the climate plan.

White noted she hopes to see movement on a minimum wage increase and upgrades to the Alaska Highway in future sittings.

She lamented a lack of action on the Sexual Assault Response Team, which was promised for 2018 but has yet to launch.

White also reminded Yukoners that though the government has passed a variety of legislation, those changes still need to be followed up with regulations.

“All these issues need to be followed-up on if they’re going to make a difference in Yukoners’ lives,” she said.

Comments (11)

Up 3 Down 1

Obi on Dec 5, 2019 at 12:15 pm

“ I always thought that politics was supposed to be the second oldest profession.
I am recently thinking that it is starting to strongly resemble the first”.....

Up 5 Down 1

Diddly! on Dec 4, 2019 at 7:29 pm

Has Ted ‘Flanders’ Adel done anything other than doze off in the ‘ledge? Whenever I watch on TV he is struggling to stay awake in the background.

Up 10 Down 12

Jeffrey White on Dec 3, 2019 at 4:24 am

Dear Stacey, you do not will not nor ever have spoken on behalf of this Yukoner and I don't care what you change your name to. Why not try ' New and Improved Yukon Party with Enzyemes' .

Up 9 Down 5

U. S. on Dec 2, 2019 at 11:44 pm

That Groucho ain’t no sloucho... The liberal vernacular is audaciously spectacular as they build their Stairway to Heaven on words that are leaven they act and behave as if they were eleven... Their secret codes passed on by submissive toads to the masses they shovel their loads...

Hiding this and hiding that... Quid pro quo and tit for tat... Openness, accountability we’ll have none of that... Words mean what words mean... What was that... A drop of the hat? As they Ramble On down the road... All that glitters for them is gold... And on their Stairway to Heaven they begin the ascent while to public they say get bent... Cause you know sometimes words have two meanings and in this way we sever you from the rightness of your gleanings...

But here we have a toad or two right out front in plain view... To help liberals Atom-eyes ewe!

Up 4 Down 3

Charlie's Aunt on Dec 2, 2019 at 5:37 pm

@ Snowman; nowhere did Yukoner79 mention Porter Ck in reference to Super A. Maybe he did mean that one but doubt it since there is only one crosswalk close by & that is on the Highway. There is also a Super A in Riverdale with crosswalks, maybe think on that before you slam other posters & P. Ck.

Up 9 Down 13

Atom on Dec 2, 2019 at 1:04 pm

According to the Cons and their supporters, the Liberals are...'stupid, sneaky, weasel taxers'.... sounds like a conservative election ad...ahem..which they lost...at least they are not 'losers' Yo! YK79GrouchiandJJ

Up 22 Down 8

Juniper Jackson on Nov 30, 2019 at 3:18 pm

Snowman: Just a small correction.. not everyone lives like royalty up here. Some of us have to pay our own heat and rent. A low campground fee does not qualify a location for royalty living. Some of us are not subsidized. Meat, in say.. Vancouver, which is where I looked, was 26.43 a lb. Here, that same cut, roughly the same size was 57.00, while a 3 rib, prime rib roast was 209. here.. a can of Campbells chicken noodle soup is 1.07. I live on that the last 4 days of the month or so. I am glad that you can live like royalty. (I am not being sarcastic either, I AM happy for people, but that can all change with a pink slip).

I am not happy with this government. They are just like the Federal party and govern the same heavy handed way. They do a survey, so they can say they consulted, but the decisions are made before the survey even goes out. This government is sneaky and underhanded. We ARE taxed, higher than MOST of Canada, but our taxes are hidden in payroll deductions, in the cost of living here. Yukoner79 is mostly right. I disagree about the roads. Pauline Frost is a very poor representative, and should not have been given the portfolio that she fails to manage. However, none of our officials would do any better and possibly might do worse because they know what's best for everyone, and they're going to do it too!!!!!! yeah.. right.

Up 30 Down 7

Groucho d'North on Nov 30, 2019 at 8:33 am

I am growing suspicious of weasel-words like "modernizing" and how they are used by this government as a goal. There's too much ambiguity and not enough clear statements of purpose towards an outcome.

Up 15 Down 12

Snowman on Nov 29, 2019 at 10:34 pm

Hey Yukoner 79, Are you really saying that Porter Creek needs more highway work instead of the busier areas around Range Road and the airport? Wow. Our population continues to grow and we all use the airport, ergo the area around the airport is constantly getting busier. As well, Toyota just opened up a dealership on range road, other businesses are planning to set up shop and the City built its new services building up there. Porter Creek is already bubble wrapped enough despite what Safety Sams like yourself think. I'm guessing you live in Porter Creek and just think you and your family are more important than others. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that the areas being done are the ones that need it most.

Up 24 Down 14

Snowman on Nov 29, 2019 at 10:27 pm

@Yukoner79 "tax, tax, tax everything" Where do you live that you are so overtaxed? Because here in the Yukon we pay less taxes than almost anywhere else in Canada. We don't come close to paying our own way for anything. We live like royalty up here - no airport tax to fund our airport, very low campground fees (including free firewood), a small pittance to get into long term care compared to what provinces charge, no sales tax.... I could go on and on. As long as we continue to rely on massive transfer payments instead of trying to pay some of our own way, we have no basis to pretend we are hard done by!

Up 38 Down 14

Yukoner79 on Nov 29, 2019 at 4:02 pm

"He said most decisions were made collectively and aimed to utilize the experience level of every minister." This government makes decisions collaboratively because every minister lacks the relevant experience, knowledge or ability to get it done on their own.

So that means they are all to blame for the one bad decision after another. Stupid place for a group home - buying a huge, beautiful executive home for $1.1 million then renovating the hell out of it for another $1+ million, and still not ready, when no one wanted it there in the first place? Tax tax tax tax everything? Stupid highway decisions and no - NO- work done to areas that need it? Have you seen the state of the crosswalks by Super A? The opposition brought it up and you slough it off like it isn't important? How about the insane decisions made to take over the Sally Anne and make it low barrier?

I am beyond disappointed. Yes, Frost needs her load lightened. No, she is not doing a good job. She is doing a mediocre job at best, and only at times. And why is Dendys a Minister? She needs her small load lightened also. Mostyn speaks in prose poetry and Ranj is de facto Premier and loves cover his tracks in any way possible. Sneaky buggers. Maybe give a portfolio to Gallina who is chomping to get a spot but has been overlooked for three years. He seems to have the ability.

But alas - another two years of "progressive collaboration".

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