Whitehorse Daily Star

Image title

Photo by Whitehorse Star

Minister of Highways and Public Works Richard Mostyn

Procurement plan consultation called inadequate

The Yukon government’s new First Nations procurement policy is still enmeshed with controversy.

By Tim Giilck on January 20, 2021

The Yukon government’s new First Nations procurement policy is still enmeshed with controversy.

Sources have provided the Star with a copy of a letter the Yukon Contractors Association (YCA) has sent to Richard Mostyn, the minister of Highways and Public Works.

The letter outlines a series of questions from the YCA and criticisms it has of the process leading up to the announcement of the policy. It doesn’t paint a flattering picture of the way the government has handled the issue with private business.

When contacted Tuesday, the YCA didn’t want to offer a direct comment as yet, saying it’s still in discussions with the government.

Its letter says:

“Dear Minister, Mostyn: First, we would like to congratulate the Yukon Government on your work to develop a Yukon First Nations Procurement Policy. The sector supports the objectives outlined in the policy, the shift to value driven procurement, and enhancing Yukon First Nations involvement,” the letter states.

“On behalf of the Yukon Contractors Association (YCA), I am writing to request an immediate meeting with you, ministers Pillai and Streicker, and YCA member representatives.

“We wish to discuss the concerns our members have brought forward, and we request that the government delay implementation of the new policy until 2022.

“The YCA received member inquiries, requests for information, and concerns after the policy was announced.

“On Jan. 7, we hosted in-person and online forums to hear from our members on the details that have been provided to date. Combined attendance for both meetings was 72 company members, representing over 80 per cent of our membership. The majority of those members concurred with the enumerated issues shared below.”

The letter, which is signed by YCA president Terry Sherman, goes on to read: “While our members firmly support the objectives outlined in the policy, there was a consensus that the policy, as written, is divisive and pits Yukon businesses against each other.”

It lists a lack of consultation by the government as a prime criticism.

“We would like to note that no YCA member felt that they were consulted on the First Nations Procurement Policy. The Procurement Business Committee was presented highlights of the policy but was never provided substantive detail.

“Nor was the panel provided any opportunity to provide commentary or feedback on any policy or detail. This process should not be considered a consultation.”

Sherman states in the letter that YCA members feel “the Yukon government’s intent with the policy is unclear.

“The on-the-ground application of the policy is not likely to achieve the objectives as outlined, when put into practice.”

The YCA members also object to the government’s notion of using percentage of ownership to determine whether a business is owned by a First Nation.

“This definition of a Yukon First Nations business makes it most effective to establish shell companies which would neither develop nor enhance relationships and they fail to provide any development of relevant sector skills or experience.

“More concerning to YCA members, they provide a very lucrative and easy opportunity for Outside companies to establish in the Yukon while circumventing Yukon business requirements.

“The YCA objects as well to the ambitious timelines established in the policy.

“The proposed policy has massive changes to the procurement process and the timelines are far too soon for implementation.

“Private sector businesses will ultimately find ways to operate. However, Yukon Government’s quick implementation is directly selecting ‘winners and losers’ this year.

“Government is providing a competitive advantage to those Yukon businesses better positioned to operate under the policy, and the YCA feels that all our members should have equal opportunity to compete.

“This requires enough time to prepare. Failing to provide sufficient time to the private sector will create resentment and may cause the policy to fail, a result that no one wants.”

Mostyn has responded to the letter from the YCA with one of his own.

“The policy was drafted to meet the spirit and intent of Chapter 22 of the Yukon First Nations Final Agreements, to increase the participation of Yukon First Nations People in Yukon’s economy and to take a step towards reconciliation,” he wrote.

“I am glad to hear the Yukon Contractors Association supports the overarching goals and objectives of this policy. 

“This policy was developed through a collaborative government-to-government process between Yukon Government officials and Yukon First Nations government officials.

“It is important to note that government-to-government discussions are confidential and that trust must be upheld, which is why we were not in a position to share a draft policy with all interested stakeholders earlier than we did.

“It is important you understand the policy establishes goals and parameters and the work on developing the operational requirements has just begun,” the minister added.

“This is where I see your membership playing an active role in making sure this policy is a success for all Yukoners. In the past few weeks, we have engaged many local businesses to explain where we are with the development and implementation of these requirements.

“In fact, this month a new YG/ Industry Working group was specifically formed to provide input and advice on the details included in these operational requirements.”

Mostyn wrote he has asked “officials to meet with your association, ensure clarity on what the policy does, including highlighting the areas where operational requirements may be appropriate.

“It is my hope that the Yukon Contractors Association will continue to work collaboratively with Yukon government officials in finding solutions to ensure a smooth implementation of the YFNPP.” 

Comments (36)

Up 20 Down 6

Snafu on Jan 26, 2021 at 6:45 am

Solution; Tell everyone you know, even the unborn, never vote Liberal again.

Up 13 Down 7

Sarah on Jan 25, 2021 at 8:18 am

@ABC - you write exactly like a certain pompous and indiscreet former newspaper "journalist". When people try to toot their own horn through use of the anonymous comment section by claiming to be a "supporter", they don't realize that people who know their particular vernacular may in fact be able to tell who they are.

Up 21 Down 3

YukonMax on Jan 25, 2021 at 6:25 am

@Jim... Still believing? The First Nations want a piece of the action. $$$
There are saying very little about putting their own members to work. They do not want to work for the private sector. Period. Why would they?

Up 34 Down 6

Jim on Jan 23, 2021 at 7:45 pm

@EJ, thank you for the history lesson. I think the point you are missing is that what this procurement deal means is that someone could have spent 20, 30 or more years building their company while employing Yukoners. Now what they are being told is either form a partnership with 51% First Nation ownership or basically become non-competitive. I’m not sure how it benefits to penalize local contractors, who had nothing to do with any of the past actions against the First Nations. But I guess this way the government doesn’t lose anything while patting themselves on the back while using the UFA as a backdrop. I think you would find that no where in it does it say there has to be a 15% cushion.
Maybe you have noticed that there are quite a few well to do First Nation development corps. They already own a large Road construction company, large building material supplier, window manufacturer, numerous commercial properties. Wind and solar energy projects, part owner of Air North and part owner of a fuel company. I think we can all agree that these development corps are very competitive. If there is a place First Nation needs help, would be with training of skilled workers. Truck drivers, equipment operators, carpenters, electricians, etc are in short supply for all businesses. That would help lift citizens out of poverty while supplying resources for all businesses. Not just fill the already bloated pockets of various development corps. Now that would truly be helping all Yukon businesses.

Up 10 Down 6

EJ - so they moved thousands of years ago on Jan 23, 2021 at 3:57 pm

Isn't it great how we get to pick the point in history where we give a damn?

Up 16 Down 18

EJ on Jan 22, 2021 at 8:29 pm

@ To start on the same Page

As a refugee you packed up and chose to move half way across the world and take your chances. First Nations people didn't move to another country, on the contrary, they were living on their land where they have been for thousands of years when Europeans came here and imposed everything upon them culminating in the residential schools as ABC mentioned which wiped out a generation more or less. Also, First Nations signed legally binding agreements with governments including Canada and Yukon. This is why First Nations almost always win their court cases against government. So I do sympathize with your experience but those are key differences that exist here in Canada when it comes to First Nations.

Up 6 Down 18

Patti Eyre on Jan 22, 2021 at 4:04 pm

@ shooting from the left hip? No, Al, no! You are so quick to paint folks left or right, but it’s got nothing to do with that base dichotomy. How about you try growing up?

Up 31 Down 9

ABC---? on Jan 22, 2021 at 2:27 pm

So every company that is currently First Nation owned is? I guess they can't succeed? Will there be a policy that includes that the First Nation owned company has to employ First Nations employees? Was an audit done to see how many non first nations are employed by First Nations companies? If Fn's can't hire enough first nations how do they expect other companies? The people that want to work are working. The people that don't want to work need help. A bid value reduction isn't going to help the people that are in the most vulnerable spots.How does a bid value reduction help with homelessness, poverty, substance abuse? You need at least 50,000 worth of resources to bid on a gov contract.
What about the other benefits already afforded to first nations? No taxes charged on equipment or vehicles that are delivered to reserve land. There are already huge benefits put in place for first nations and the consensus is money isn't the issue. But the government gains heavily by linking to First Nation in all aspects BECAUSE if we have to pay more for tenders, construction, or resources because the first nation are involved, that just means the fed has to send more money. This plan puts us further in debt. If these were your private dollars being spent, to say, build a house; one company says "I'll do it for 200,000" another company says "229,000" you think the smart thing to do is accept the 229,000 bid because its valued at 15% less? but then pay the full amount of 229,000? Where do you think this extra money is going to come from?

Up 40 Down 9

Oya on Jan 22, 2021 at 1:59 pm

Secret consulting with only the FNs.

I distinctly remember THIS minister (as an ex-newspaper reporter) saying HE would make government more transparent. That was his platform to get elected. Wtf happened, Mr. Mostyn???

Up 19 Down 6

I am an immigrant on Jan 22, 2021 at 1:39 pm

@ -to start on the same page: Canada, or any other country that is not your own, doesn't owe you anything. It is up to you and no-one else to provide for yourself and your family. To complain and whine shines a bad light on us other immigrants who never got a penny from the Government but worked our b...s off and paid our taxes without complaining. That is actually how this country came to be what it is: hard working people who are not looking for a hand out but are contributing. What happened to society that everyone wants a free ride these days?

Sorry, I am ranting, but this really bugs me. If I wouldn't like it here, or if I thought that life here is that bad, I would leave. This is the FN's home and country, as it is for all born Canadians. You and I are guests, behave like one and respect that. (to clarify: I do not condone any group have advantages over any other group, no matter the reason. I believe in "may the best one win".)

Up 11 Down 18

Acceptable Procurement Policies on Jan 22, 2021 at 12:51 pm

I guess the 'Yukon Party' would like to see procurement policies of their past come to life again like when the consultant wanted to be the builder of the riding stables/ gymkana events facility when they were in power. Nobody at Yukon Party saw anything wrong with this until the public outcry got a hold of it and the original deal was squashed. Full integrity attempt or what?

Up 22 Down 9

Groucho d'North on Jan 22, 2021 at 12:46 pm

I fail to see how providing a racial advantage on government procurement contracts will turn back the clock of history and “create a more even playing field”. Contracts are issued in a competitive manner to save taxpayer’s money so that the best deal that meets the specification with the lowest price gets the job.
The Liberals have decided to turn this into some kind or reconciliation benefit to secure votes, same as they have done with the Draft Mineral Strategy. Yes terrible things were done to the first nations in the past and there have been various compensations provided over the years to make amends for them: healthcare, education, subsidized housing and similar programs were put into place for aboriginal people across the country. Some took advantage of these and attained degrees in law and medicine, while others acquired other skills to earn a living of their choice.
Yes I believe we should be striving for equality for all people and the comments below yours provide a sounding board for how these should be considered. My ancestors came from Scotland a few generations back and historically our people were summarily punished by the English: lands and wealth were stolen, wars were fought to wipe out the Kilts, and English Lords impregnated Scottish women to alter traditional ancestry and rights to property. You’ll find that most races and nationalities have had grievous misfortunes in their past to deal with due to political disputes and occupation of lands, religion and cultural differences.
Given what you have already posted I would like to hear your views on how we can achieve equality in these modern times and remain fair to everybody regardless of their history. If you really want to know how to achieve equality just ask a mom with four kids and a box of cookies.
Rather than fixing a problem the Liberals have poured gas on a fire.

Up 18 Down 7

Arn Anderson on Jan 22, 2021 at 11:44 am

I love how everyone is up in arms about this and quick to call for reverse racism and/or double standards. Nothing is going to change, just like the announcement for hiring Yukon First Nations in YTG. The unelected bureaucracy has the final say, and they hire who they want (usually a white relative or a Southern hipster) and procure who they want. They might consider an FN business, but I guarantee you, it will be business as usual because the unelected YTG bureaucracy calls the shots. The governing party is only around for two years; the other two years are campaigning.

Check the FN hiring stats for YTG, minuscule at best and no permanent positions as all FN will be hired as Temporary contract employees to bloat the numbers artificially.

Up 15 Down 39

ABC on Jan 21, 2021 at 9:35 pm

@Groucho No, it is not about getting a pound of flesh, its about creating a more even playing field through the agreements signed. A pound of flesh would be demanding a direct sum of money for all economic activity that occurs on traditional territory from businesses and/or government.

You make the mistake of assuming that right now without this policy everything is equal, which is an easy mistake to make from where you likely sit. Your life experience is vastly different from theirs.

Ask yourself how one group of people can be brutalized, dehumanized and traumitized for a generation and then be instantly expected to compete with another group of people who experienced little to none of that?

Think of it another way; How many professional sports stars come from broken homes and communities wracked by drugs and alcohol? Do you not understand that having a stable home, family and community are essential to raising well rounded, productive and educated citizens? This action by YTG is just a small helping hand to these people who are currently at a huge disadvantage. The opposition to this from so many contractors is very disheartening to say the least. I thought in the Yukon we had moved past this level of ignorance and pig headedness decades ago.

Come on contractors, you are better than this.

Up 22 Down 12

--to start on the same page on Jan 21, 2021 at 8:17 pm

So refugees who were blown up out of their homes, left with nothing but the clothes on their backs, came to Canada with the hope of a future after losing their family in bombings don't get the same benefit? You all thinking these workers with work visas had easy lives before they came here? "No we sympathize." But the trauma many went through to get here doesn't get them a benefit. We just get to drive cabs and work minimum wage jobs. No 15% bonus for us. Really helps me start a company. But the first nation that goes to a highschool and gets a diploma needs more help. Maybe you should try to understand the history of all of the people that are in the Yukon. History is traumatic for more than one group. This gov saying we give 15% for dev corps is telling the victims to deal with the trauma are on their own. No free counselling, no one to talk to. but dev corps and companies with much money now get discounts. Millions for thee, minimum wage for me.

Up 26 Down 9

Jim on Jan 21, 2021 at 7:28 pm

@Davis, you think the YCA is being petty because the policy doesn’t affect them. I assume you know nothing about procurement or have never bid competitively before. Of course it affects them. Going forward non First Nation contractors will have to be 15% cheaper on what appears to be all YTG contracts. Do you really believe that 10 to 15 million dollar road work jobs have an extra 15% cushion that can be shaved off the top? I guess in your mind all road work should go to the one First Nation owned company, while the other local companies are just being petty. Or how about a 30 or 40 million dollar school or rec center. There is not a extra 4 or 5 million dollar slush fund that contractors are putting in their pocket. All the contractors are expecting is a level playing field. These are not the people who built residential schools, scoop 60 or any of the other atrocities. The government is punishing people who have done nothing but invest in this territory rather than taking the blame themselves.

Up 22 Down 12

Yoduh on Jan 21, 2021 at 6:49 pm

Reverse Apartheid.
The Liberals with their biased attitude towards First Nations, are creating a storm that is going to come to the Yukon.
Our population is going to explode in the near future, and the First Nations are going to be severally outnumbered by the people moving here. Elections are going to be won by the majority, that want fairness and equality in all things.
You reap what you sow, so unless current affairs are dealt with in a balanced manner be prepared for animosity to reign well into the future, with negative outcomes for our First Nations.

Up 56 Down 14

My Opinion on Jan 21, 2021 at 2:23 pm

Another Race Based policy by the Liberals. Imagine if it went the other way.
That is the easiest way to figure out if it is wrong (in any policy) flip the script and if it looks good either way then it is fine.

In this case it totally stinks.

Up 42 Down 9

Wilf Carter on Jan 21, 2021 at 12:59 pm

Public funds are suppose to be under federal contract law which takes precedence here that public funds on contracts have to be open to all contractors and all people have the right to bid on public contracts. This can be cancelled in court because it is not fair to all Yukoners and all Yukoners own the public money equally. If there were some special type of spec on a contract then it could be sent to the contractor that have the certain skills.
The Yukon FN's are competitive in their work because I have worked with them for years.
This is so wrong and an insult to First Nations and contractors alike. All this does is create a divide between both sides on this subject.
The minister is trying to buy votes with these types of actions and disrespects laws of Canada.

Up 46 Down 9

joe on Jan 21, 2021 at 12:35 pm

@ ABC.. there is absolutely nothing in chapter 22 that says F/N's get preferential treatment over other members of the public. What it does say is they will be provided with opportunity to participate fairly and equally. You cant make up stuff, read the agreements.

Up 44 Down 7

Groucho d'North on Jan 21, 2021 at 12:23 pm

I find it interesting on some of the perspectives being used in this debate. I suspect the overarching goal with this policy was to achieve some equality for all Yukon businesses when bidding on government supply contracts. So to make this possible, exclusive advantages are being considered for FN business operators. So no longer will awards be based on who submitted the best or more affordable contract proposal, despite FN enterprises being provided with a 15% head start. Does the government somehow believe this is a fair method of achieving the goal of equlity? Whereas a reader like ABC sees it as a way to acquire a pound of flesh for historic matters unrelated to government making the best deal possible for our tax dollars.
What has been presented by the government is akin to a hockey game with new rules where one team has five players on the ice while the other team only has four. This is not equality. So I'm wondering if equality is the primary goal with this new procurement policy or some other goal is being pursued and unspoken?

Up 16 Down 16

Josey Wales on Jan 21, 2021 at 11:11 am

Hey Al...there is no point with Nancy Pelosi, she understands very little but SJW dogma.
Willfully ignorant soldier of virtue it is, you sir are pissing in a 30 knot wind.
In case your wondering why your legs are wet.
Al have a great day and please, carry on...

Up 43 Down 6

Al on Jan 21, 2021 at 10:46 am

@ Patti: No, you don't understand.
This deal was struck "between two governments"! Read the damn article. Then read my note. I specifically quoted what Mostyn said. I did not embellish it. Nor did I diminish, or distinguish, who makes up the Yukon citizenry. I deliberately stayed away from that. The trouble with your comments quite often Patti is that way too often shoot from your "left" hip without absorbing what your are reading.

@ABC: It might surprise you to learn that we are all equal - OR - at least we are supposed to be...

Up 13 Down 64

Davis on Jan 21, 2021 at 6:53 am

Seems a bit petty on behalf of the Yukon Contractors Association to me. Why are they mad that YG didn't consult with them? This new policy is specific only to Yukon First Nations, why should they be entitled to comment on it?

They're also upset that this policy pits Yukon businesses against each other...isn't that how business works? I guess maybe not in the Yukon...It seems that yukon contractors are a little too used to getting free handouts and guaranteed work, maybe a little competition would be good for the market.

Up 51 Down 7

Max Mack on Jan 21, 2021 at 2:03 am

" government-to-government discussions are confidential ".

In other words, discussions with FNs.
I find this to be a very troubling statement. This is particularly problematic given that FN Dev Corps and their associated businesses are NOT FNs. They are for-profit entities.

But I guess that's a "small" price to pay so the Liberals can continue to buy 25% of the vote.

Up 35 Down 10

Wilf Carter on Jan 20, 2021 at 11:06 pm

No open bidding any more? Only closed bidding?
Less jobs being created by less money for more public projects?
Less progress for Yukon's future?
No more economy of scales to support low income workers?
More taxes for Yukoners and less money in their pockets?
Wow, what another mess; just like housing, land development, infrastructure, community services, economic development, highways, education. etc.

Up 14 Down 64

ABC on Jan 20, 2021 at 9:35 pm

Wow, really!? Contractors think this is wrong and "divisive"? I wonder why they would think that way, hmmm?

It is only "divisive" to those who want the status quo to remain because it works so well in their favour. They are upset that someone or something is upsetting their apple cart. Well let's be crystal clear here - the status quo meant mostly non-first nation contractors and businesses doing very well for themselves while conducting all of their business on traditional First Nation lands. In return, First Nations are typically given a pittance and pushed off to the side. Maybe one or two of their citizens will be given a job carrying bricks or holding a stop sign but that's about it. Now, the government is finally trying to live up to its chapter 22 agreements and actually ensure First Nations are given some more legitimate benefits. But noooo that's completely unacceptable to our local contractors - how dare the government threaten a tiny piece of their big gravy train from Ottawa!!

I hope Mr.Mostyn doesn't fall for their charade of pretending to support the aims and goals of the policy here. The only way to get the contractors on side would be to change all the tangible benefits here into vague commitments and "best effort" clauses. Basically change it enough so that non-first nation contractors don't lose a dime or a contract and aren't required to change their business plans or models.

Oh and to the idiots who will likely come along and say "Everyone should be treated the same and no special treatment for any group to give them an advantage", lets explore that. In order to have a level playing field where everyone starts at the same place, we need to take away all of the contractors' children, basically a generation, and send them away to special schools for the next 10 years - not allowed to see their families and have them physically, verbally and sexually abused over this time period. Then we can plop all of these kids back into their communities with everyone else who had a normal loving upbringing with their families and tell them to compete. Tell them to start their own businesses, maybe go off and live by themselves to pursue higher learning at universities down south, maybe play some pro sports etc. I mean these kids who have been horribly abused should have no problems right? Same rules for everyone so its obviously fair and just.

Its also pretty clear why the contractors want this delayed until 2022.... there is an election this year and they know that if they can mobilize their workers and get Currie Dixon and the Yukon Party back in power again, he will likely kill the policy or at least turn it into hollow window dressing before it ever sees the light of day.

Up 54 Down 4

Joe on Jan 20, 2021 at 8:53 pm

First you say you consulted with private sector then when you're called out you say you did it top secret Govy to F/N and you say this is a confidential matter. You should resign as you do not represent the public and you are misleading.

Up 50 Down 5

Jim on Jan 20, 2021 at 7:42 pm

YTG stated a couple of weeks ago in another article when this procurement announcement was made that they had done public consultation in this regard. This was a flat out lie. Now the minister says that negotiations were done between two governments in secret. Now local contractors will be left scrambling while he remains adamant that this is good for all Yukoners.
I don’t believe anywhere in chapter 22 that it states we have to give First Nation Development Corps an extra 15% over other local companies. I would much rather see that 15% going to training individuals to improve their living standards than filling the coffers of Development Corps. Who exactly is the government representing when negotiating? Not me, that’s for sure.

Up 46 Down 8

Yukoner on Jan 20, 2021 at 7:26 pm

This and the preferential hiring for First Nations within YG are basically down right racist. If YG actually cared about fixing things they should do it internally; if their staff are biased against First Nations fire them.

It shouldn't be on other businesses or people to take the brunt of horrible YG hiring and procurement standards.

Up 42 Down 8

North_of_60 on Jan 20, 2021 at 5:48 pm

This is nothing but more vote buying from the LIB. What's worse is that it's not the least bit surprising.

Up 7 Down 40

Patti Eyre on Jan 20, 2021 at 3:43 pm

@Al let me be clear on this because you don’t seem to understand it at all: Yukon First Nations are Yukon citizenry. Get it?

Up 95 Down 14

TMYK on Jan 20, 2021 at 3:08 pm

It's going to be very interesting to see how many FN businesses, Bands and Development Corps donate to the Liberals for this favor that was negotiated behind closed doors.

Up 105 Down 13

Al on Jan 20, 2021 at 2:26 pm

Mostyn, you and the entire Cabient need to hang your heads in shame.

"It is important to note that government-to-government discussions are confidential and that trust must be upheld, which is why we were not in a position to share a draft policy with all interested stakeholders earlier than we did." You are correct you neither consulted nor provided a discussion paper during consultations.

Let me be clear, as I know you have trouble grasping nuances. Your primary and only responsibility is to the Yukon citizenry. You have NO fiduciary responsibility to other governments. Yes we expect "our" government to work with other entities but not in secrecy and certainly not to the benefit solely of the other party whose agenda is their own.
We seem to have a different view on how democracy works. My suggestion is you and your minions ask YU to set up a special program of instruction to provide you on how democracy functions in a democratic society.

You further added some coarse salt to the wound with your condescending remark: "It is important you understand the policy establishes goals and parameters and the work on developing the operational requirements has just begun,”.
This is typical Liberal policy up and down from grass roots to the Federal level. Divide and separate. I truly believe you people do not know how to foster amicable relationships with anyone but your friends.

You owe YCA and other members of the public who have a vested interest not only an apology but to take what you have and re-craft the document so that it meets the needs of Yukoners. I have very little hope that you will do this. Arrogance has brought down many a government in the past. This one is headed full bore in that direction.

Up 80 Down 9

Groucho d'North on Jan 20, 2021 at 2:22 pm

Quite a divisive new policy to introduce in an election year, or has the electioneering already begun? Casting it as government to government is a cagy way of trying to keep the secrets bottled up. However for a matter as significant as this one, I believe the approach that was used was intended to be secretive as the policy shops are not dummies and knew what the reactions would be - so it was decided to do it under the covers. Open and accountable? Keep trying in the time you have remaining.

Up 28 Down 7

JSmonk on Jan 20, 2021 at 1:19 pm

Where is the diversity giving out of country bidders a break in travelling costs?
Diversity is prosperity.

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.