Act on the liquor act
It’s time to change one of the oldest pieces of legislation in the Yukon.
Start by nixing the clause that states bars and lounges must have rooms attached to them.
In Whitehorse, hotels must have at least 30 bedrooms to qualify for a liquor licence, according to section 65 of the act.
(In rural communities that number could be as low as 10.)
The act defines “bedroom” as “a furnished and serviced bedroom regularly available to the travelling public.”
So hoteliers cannot accept government contracts to house people on social assistance and remain in compliance with their liquor licences.
And the legislation prohibits competition from other establishments, like neighbourhood pubs.
The room requirement is outdated.
It shocks newcomers to the territory, and puts the Yukon eons behind other jurisdictions.
And, most importantly, it renders the act unenforceable — especially because the Yukon currently employs one liquor inspector.
To truly enforce the act, inspectors must keep strict tabs on each hotel, inn, motel and motor inn in the entire territory, checking to ensure each has the requisite number of rooms and that they are available for rent.
In a 2001 survey, Yukoners asked for licences to be extended to operations like neighbourhood pubs, which would not have to have rooms attached.
Five years later, it’s past time to give the people what they want. (LC)
Polling station abuses demand action
The rules are clear.
Section 226 of the Elections Act spells out who can enter a polling station.
Only returning officers, the poll clerk, qualified interpreters or poll attendants, the candidates and their two agents are allowed.
Everyone else is barred, “except to vote.”
Then they must leave.
Recent violations at Watson Lake’s advance poll show the rules are not being enforced.
Yukon Party campaigner Archie Tannoch admits escorting two men inside the poll on Sunday — a clear violation of the law.
Tannoch also named the men to the polling clerk — another violation.
The fact the two escorted men were obviously intoxicated is not a violation, although some question the ethics of bringing them in.
It took a formal complaint from witness Linda McDonald, who also broke the law by giving the clerk the correct names of the men and advising them not to vote for Dennis Fentie, to prompt any sort of reprimand from Elections Yukon.
When the returning officer told him he broke the law, Tannoch pleaded ignorance.
But surely the poll officials who witnessed these four violations knew the rules were being broken.
The only action they took was to advise McDonald, who cast her ballot, to complain about Tannoch’s transgressions to returning officer Laurel Cole.
Why not crack down?
Officials failed to deny Tannoch, or anyone else who wasn’t voting, entrance.
And they didn’t demand McDonald cease and desist her biased proclamations.
And why didn’t the polling clerk file an official report with the chief electoral officer?
The affair suggests Elections Yukon is not enforcing the territory’s voting laws in small communities where everyone knows everyone else.
And that raises serious questions about our democracy. (GM)