Whitehorse Daily Star

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THE HIGHS AND THE LOWS – Premier Sandy Silver discusses the end of legislative proceedings on Thursday afternoon. He plans to spend some time in his Klondike riding starting next week.

Silver offers frank critique of sitting, parties

Premier Sandy Silver appeared to be almost relieved as one of the more tumultuous legislative sittings in recent history came to a close Thursday.

By Tim Giilck on December 3, 2021

Premier Sandy Silver appeared to be almost relieved as one of the more tumultuous legislative sittings in recent history came to a close Thursday.

Silver noted the session marked the difficulties of riding herd over a fractious legislature with a minority government.

“It hasn’t been easy,” Silver told reporters following some initial votes in the assembly.

“There’s no doubt this was a difficult sitting,” Silver said. “This is the first minority government in the Yukon for almost 30 years, and it comes with challenges, that’s for sure.”

The premier took some shots at the Yukon Party, the official Opposition, which fought the Liberals on almost every turn.

With both parties tied at eight seats, and the Liberals in power only because of an agreement struck with the NDP, it was almost inevitable the parties would be at each other’s throats.

Add in controversial issues such as the Hidden Valley School sexual abuse scandal, and you had a recipe for discord.

“What’s not expected is the disrespect, the personal attacks, the constant stream of misinformation from the opposition,” Silver said.

“And the disruption of the assembly from (anti-vaccine mandate) protestors who were encouraged by the Yukon Party. I think with these things, politics in the Yukon this fall have hit an all-time low.”

Silver said he was “very proud of his very strong team of leaders” under the circumstances.

He was asked if he and his colleagues were actually prepared for the vicissitudes of managing a minority government. Silver said – after a thoughtful pause – that he thought so, but without having experience in minority government, “you prepare as much as you possibly can for sure.

“We were prepared for the tone, not so much for the personal attacks,” Silver continued. “I think the most interesting thing in the sitting were the questions that weren’t asked.”

He said there were few questions about the economy, or mining, or land-use planning, which are usually core values for the Yukon Party. “I don’t know why that it is.”

He focused in to provide a long list of what he thought the government had accomplished, but acknowledged COVID-19 was still the most pressing fight.

“We need to do everything we can to stop COVID-19,” Silver said. “That includes working together to support public health measures to keep Yukoners safe. We’re not out of the pandemic, and we need stable leadership.”

At one point, the only questions that were being asked involved the Hidden Valley School saga. Five questions a day were being fired at the government, and Education Minister Jeanie McLean stonewalled them all for more than a week, with rote answers noting independent reviews were beginning.

That tact infuriated the opposition, especially the Yukon Party.

Halfway into the session, the NDP and the YP teamed up to demand the resignation of former education minister Tracy-Anne McPhee, who oversaw the initial period of the sexual abuse scandal. It began with a then-education assistant at the school being charged with sexual interference in 2019,

Silver and his government ignored the oppostion’s dramatic move. At the time, Silver pugnaciously declared that “he decided who was in his cabinet.”

The session was also dominated by an uneasy partnership between the Liberals and the NDP and the Confidence and Supply Agreement they negotiated last April to keep the Liberals in power.

“When we were in opposition together, we didn’t always agree,” Silver said.

“We are experiencing growing pains when it comes to working together. We committed to responsible decision-making with the NDP, and it is difficult.

“You have to remember this is not a coalition government, and the NDP is still in opposition. They will advocate on behalf of their citizens, their ridings and all Yukoners as well. We are in government and they have an obligation to criticize.”

Silver went on to suggest the NDP is having a difficult time growing into the simultaneous role as both opposition critics and quasi-government leaders.

“I think they are struggling a bit as to finding their legs as leaders and making tough decisions. It’s easier to be the person for everybody. When you’re in leadership, you really do have to make decisions.”

Silver was particularly annoyed the NDP and the YP teamed up to deny the government its chance to debate the vaccine mandate policy more than a week ago.

Both opposition parties said there was little point in discussing a policy that had the weight of the state of emergency behind it.

Looking forward, Silver said “we have changed a lot of internal processes, but I didn’t want to bore the snot out of anyone.”

More information on that will be coming in the spring, along with the reviews of the Hidden Valley situation. “It’s going to be a busy time.”

In a news release that followed the end of the sitting, the government provided a list of accomplishments.

The 2021-22 First Supplementary Estimates received assent along with seven pieces of legislation on the final day of the 31-day sitting.

The 2021-22 First Supplementary Estimates includes funding to support Yukoners through COVID-19 and historic summer flooding while providing early learning opportunities for children. The supplementary budget includes:

• nearly $10 million for the Yukon’s universal Early Learning and Childcare initiatives;

• close to $21 million to support the tourism and aviation sectors, as well as public health measures in response to COVID-19;

• more than $11 million to support the flood response and recovery of the Southern Lakes and Lake Laberge;

• $3.7 million to develop rural residential lots in rural communities such as Haines Junction, Dawson City and Watson Lake;

• $2.4 million to create modular classrooms at the Robert Service School in Dawson City;

• $1.7 million for renovations needed at Copper Ridge Place; and

• $1 million in increased funding for the Innovative and Renewable Energy Initiative that will help increase the supply of renewable energy and reduce diesel consumption in the Yukon.

The 2020-21 public accounts were tabled, showing a return to surplus for the 2020-21 fiscal year. The public accounts report that the annual surplus for 2020-21 was $19.3 million, an increase of $15.2 million from the $4.1-million surplus forecast at the start of the fiscal year.

The richer surplus is “the result of the Yukon’s responsible fiscal management and positive relationship with the federal government as the territory navigated the challenges associated with COVID-19,” YG said.

“Over the last year, the Yukon government has been able to leverage significant federal recoveries to ensure that Yukon individuals and businesses remain supported through the most difficult phases of the pandemic while also reducing the financial impact to the government’s bottom line.”

The release pointed to items such as:

  1. An amendment to the Family Property and Support Act which provides “equal and fair access” to spousal support for both married and common law spouses in the Yukon.

  2. Amendments to the Motor Vehicles Act to enhance impaired and dangerous driving laws in the Yukon.

  3. Changes to the Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods Act to enable the acts unit to investigate illegal activities related to child abuse and sexual exploitation, firearms and gang and criminal organizations, where these activities are adversely affecting a community or neighbourhood.

  4. The Act to Amend the Territorial Lands (Yukon) Act (2021) enables the government to implement, administer and enforce the new Resource Roads Regulation that’s under development.

  5. Amendments to the Cannabis Control and Regulation Act will allow private cannabis retailers in the Yukon to begin e-commerce and home delivery to Yukoners over the age of 19 once regulations are finalized.

See related stories in News section.

Comments (18)

Up 2 Down 3

Patti Eyre on Dec 8, 2021 at 12:47 pm

Ye have heard that it hath been said, an eyeball for an eyeball, and a eye tooth for a eye tooth but I say unto you, resist not evilness but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him (or her or they) the other also.

Up 1 Down 2

Oya on Dec 8, 2021 at 6:51 am

#3 makes me sick. Government taking on the job of the criminal law side of things while trampling completely on the rights of the people accused. This entire piece of legislation should be abolished, not enhanced. It is THE most draconian piece of legislation in existence in Canada, imo. We, the people, should demand this legislation be repealed. The police are the entity to address this stuff; not the government.

Up 6 Down 1

Sheepchaser on Dec 7, 2021 at 9:55 am

@iBrian,
Just because you might have criticized a politician for one thing like a policy or a failure, doesn’t mean you can’t compliment them for something else. Politics within a democracy are not intended to be an all-or-nothing tribal loyalty. You seem to suggest that consistency equals integrity.

By the way, brown nosing to whom exactly? The idea that these forums are much more than a zoo exhibit to those with real power is wishful thinking.

Up 8 Down 13

iBrian on Dec 6, 2021 at 2:32 pm

@sheepchaser
Who’s butt are you brown nosing into? Boy oh boy, you're worse then a coin for being 2 sided.

Up 6 Down 10

iBrian on Dec 6, 2021 at 6:44 am

I sure don’t like the 3rd one of the items. Sure gives untrained people the right to put themselves in harms way. Thought that’s why we had a police Service.

Up 31 Down 17

Miss P. on Dec 5, 2021 at 3:19 pm

Dear Mr. Silver, When your constituents are screaming, when they are taking to the streets, when they stand in front of and when they file into the Legislature to make their voices heard then maybe you should listen, think, research outside your blinders, and then think some more. You have let down your people and you are cloaking yourself in arrogance and ignorance to hide that fact. My family of five, and many of my neighbors, have been let down by you in every single aspect of their lives. You have not run affairs quietly and competently in the background as a good government should. Instead you have taken our rights, our employment, our schooling, and our taxes to pay for it all. So, keep screaming while pretending to be a strong leader. In my book, a strong leader is one that is humane, directing humanity as a team on the grounds of liberty, equality and humanity. Canadian law was based on those principles - you would do well, at the very least, not to violate it. I hope you will use the off time to reflect. If not, your political fate is sealed.

Up 47 Down 22

Juniper Jackson on Dec 5, 2021 at 11:31 am

Every single Liberal I know personally, see in the Parties.. pass the buck. They never, ever accept responsibility for anything. In this instance, the Liberals screwed up every issue it looked at. But of course, it's someone's, everyone's fault but theirs. Silver criticizes the other parties huh? The buck stops with the him. It's his fault, every criticism aimed at him, IS HIS fault. Put your big boy pants on Silver and just own it. AND, AND quit sneaking around trying to change our Health.. NO POLY CLINICS, do NOT ever think you can privatize my health care. The poor get shovelled to the bottom and those with money get to live. Don't even...

Up 26 Down 17

Jeff Donaldson on Dec 5, 2021 at 10:46 am

That's mostly your tax money being thrown around.
When the transfers slow down and or stop, good luck.

I am particularly pleased with #5!
Pathetic!!!!!

Up 27 Down 21

Captain Obvious on Dec 4, 2021 at 4:39 pm

CLICKER’S CONFESSION

I’ll click you according to Currie’s command
I give a thumb based on your political brand
I don’t judge the comments as fact or fiction
I’m robotic and am programmed for friction
I’ve lost my sole and don’t have my own stand
I’m a Currie’s Clicker, just a lonely trigger hand

I try to brainwash with compromised ideology
Some say my dirty deeds require true apology
Fooling the masses and empowering the fringe
This Trumpian style might cause you to cringe
I believe it’s all about getting the highest score
I’m a Currie’s Clicker, and this is a political war

My job began after Currie won a second ballot
And he got a budget from the whatchamacallit
He promised to bring the party into a new age
He told me clicking would become the big rage
In my mother’s basement he suggested I dwell
I’m a Currie’s Clicker, wasting away as an Incel

(Now on twitter at https://twitter.com/CaptainO_Yukon)

Up 18 Down 14

Craig Moddle on Dec 4, 2021 at 1:12 pm

I find it interesting that all the complainants above used nicknames, no one appears to have used their full name. Anonymity rules I guess.
Craig Moddle

Up 25 Down 51

Sheepchaser on Dec 4, 2021 at 11:21 am

Honestly, I’m not a big fan of either side’s older, entrenched and fairly tone-deaf leadership. The liberals have a big integrity and competence issue to sort out before the next session. At least two grey hairs need to be thanked for their service and sent on their way.

That said, Silver has taken this pandemic on the nose managing a jurisdiction with a larger than average, aggressively ignorant portion of the population and is still standing. He’s sacrificed his personal and political reputation in order to keep true to his responsibilities as our elected leader in a rough time to do so.

For that and in that way, he has garnered the respect of anyone who understands real leadership.

Up 70 Down 40

Yukon Mom on Dec 4, 2021 at 10:42 am

Another erroneous claim by the Premier. I don't know of a single protester out there who was encouraged by the Yukon Party, or any other partisan reasons, to be out in the street week after week trying to get our voices heard. As you have probably noticed, we are not sheep. We think for ourselves and we're all out there for different reasons. Those of us who have little to lose from these vax mandates (for the time being) are there because we recognize that this is an issue about government control and overreach, not about health or 'science'. Vaxxed or unvaxxed, people are suffering, and our Premier can't even be bothered to engage.

Up 49 Down 28

Ben on Dec 4, 2021 at 7:33 am

I think Sandy Silver is not alone in being tired of a constant stream of misinformation. I think that's the only Silver quote I've agreed with ever. Shame I very much consider him to be the source of it. I also agree that we all need to work together to support public health measures. My only question on that is how is it possible for us to all work together to support public health measures when some of those measures actually target certain people....how is it possible to work together on a health measure where if you're on one side of it there's no consequences, but if you're on the other side you're not even allowed to pass gas in public without QR code and you'll be generously offered the "choice" to lose your income. That's a fairly divisive health measure, very hard to come together on that one.

Up 61 Down 31

martin on Dec 4, 2021 at 6:13 am

Maybe, just maybe if the Gov ministers and officials (including the "Good Dr") would give staright answers, the opossition wouldn't have to resort to extremes. Liberals -both local and Fed- gambled by calling an election and they found out that Canadian's weren't ready to hand them a mayority. In both cases, the "other' party won the popular vote. Show some respect.

Up 74 Down 38

Yukoner ‘71 on Dec 4, 2021 at 3:08 am

My disdain for Sandy Silver is only exceeded by my disdain for his handler in Ottawa. In days past people would tar and feather both of them for the good of the country.

Up 63 Down 32

George on Dec 3, 2021 at 6:26 pm

The liberal party did absolutely nothing for Yukoners. They did accomplish to buy more pension time, it's sickening…Kate

Up 59 Down 25

Groucho d'North on Dec 3, 2021 at 4:25 pm

I so dislike governments that measure their accomplishments by telling us how much of our money they spent. Anybody can spend spend spend, tell us how much of our money you saved by your talents and abilities.
Don't take any bows for providing information to the public or the members opposite either. So now comes the long winter isolation so the public can forget about what they were/are angry about. Some of us will not forget.

Up 58 Down 33

Captain Obvious on Dec 3, 2021 at 3:13 pm

TAKING THE FALL

So ends thirty-one days of the fall legislative sitting
This will hopefully help with what needs interpreting
It featured the Yukon Liberal government in minority
The official opposition Yukon Party and NDP sorority

Aside from the usual important business of the House
It had plenty of theatre and rhetoric that did espouse
Of the winners and the losers who won, said the spun
Chicken dinner goes to Kate who outplayed everyone

Her party’s wish list advanced through the CASA deal
She spared us another election, allowing it to congeal
The big loser was Currie who trumped up a show fight
Set-up to fail after the police shed incriminating light

For Sandy and crew it was rocky nearly every day
Making it difficult to always remain above the fray
Along with bumps and bruises they all felt the sting
Now it’s time for all members to prepare for spring

(Now on twitter at https://twitter.com/CaptainO_Yukon)

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