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Lang’s mistake An e-mail telling a Yukon resident Sam Dion that the government’s legal spat with a Yukon First Nation is holding up his…

Lang’s mistake

An e-mail telling a Yukon resident Sam Dion that the government’s legal spat with a Yukon First Nation is holding up his land application was a mistake, says the government.

Government officials told Dion earlier this month that the government’s land dispute with the Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation that is heading to the appeals court was holding up his land application.

At a Haines Junction dinner, Premier Dennis Fentie told Dion the e-mail did not exist.

At that same dinner, Energy, Mines And Resources Minister Archie Lang told Dion the email was accurate.

Yesterday, he told the legislature the e-mail was indeed a mistake

“Certainly, the communication was sent out of the lands branch in error,” said Lang, responding to an opposition question.

“We are working with that communication and with the individuals who got that level of communication. It’s work in progress.”

The decision to hold up land applications must have received ministerial approval before the department started sending out explanations, said Liberal MLA Garry McRobb.

He also referred to an independent consultant’s report in 2005 about government practices.

“It found, and I quote, ‘massive amounts of political interference in the process,’” said McRobb.

“The government promised to clean up the mess, but this latest example indicates things have only gotten worse.”

McRobb said that the e-mail represents a major change in government policy.

“Several other land applicants were apparently told the same thing: their applications were being delayed because of the recent court decision,” said McRobb.

“The minister admitted that to my constituent at a public meeting in Haines Junction on October 4, and I witnessed that exchange.”

Lang listed more than 200 different land applications accepted over the past 12 months, including sales of farm land, residential and commercial lot sales, land use permits and mining, oil and gas exploration permits.

“This government has gone to work and done the work that Yukoners elected us to do,” said Lang.

“By the long list of applications and land management things that we have put out there, we are doing our job.

“We are tasked with the job of managing public land in the territory and we are doing just that.” (JW)

Social assistance rates could rise

The government is considering an increase to social assistance rates.

Health And Social Services Minister Brad Cathers put forward a motion calling on his government to increase the rates and to provide incentives to people on social assistance who reenter the workforce.

Cathers referenced an unfinished government review of social assistance rates for his decision.

The government is awash in surplus cash so raising rates is a no-brainer, said Liberal leader Arthur Mitchell.

“There’s no excuse other than hard-heartedness for the government’s decision to go this long without raising the abominable social assistance levels,” said Mitchell.

“For all the posturing we heard in the (legislature) today, most former governments of all political stripes had to make difficult spending choices.

“There’s no excuse for how the government has dealt with this issue.”

NDP MLA John Edzerza later put forward a motion urging the government to immediately raise social assistance rates because families are having difficulty paying rent and eating.

In the 15 years since social assistance rates were last raised in the Yukon, the cost of living has risen 26 per cent, he said.

He called on the government “to finally act with compassion and common sense on numerous recommendations by immediately raising all social assistance rates to meet the increase in the cost of living since the rates were last raised.” (JW)