conducting public business in private

The public has a right to know what the territory's leaders say to private executives. Unfortunately, Dennis Fentie and Archie Lang don't understand this.

The public has a right to know what the territory’s leaders say to private executives.

Unfortunately, Dennis Fentie and Archie Lang don’t understand this.

Recently, the Yukon hosted the premier’s reception at the Cordilleran Roundup mining conference in Vancouver. According to the Yukon contract registry, it cost us $15,000.

Invitations were issued, and Fentie and Mines Minister Archie Lang spoke at the event.

Neither has responded to several requests for interviews on their remarks. Their speaking notes have not been provided.

No government releases have been issued, though we’ve heard the government has extended a financial assistance program to support geological exploration here. It would be nice to know the details – the facts.

But facts from Fentie and Lang are in short supply these days.

The only information we’ve got about the two politicians’ remarks was provided by the Yukon Chamber of Mines.

“It was a little hard to hear,” said Carl Schulze, the chamber’s president, who attended the soiree. “Basically, (they said) that we’re open for business.”

It’s a disturbingly vague summation. It suggests the two politicians’ remarks probably leaned towards platitudes, not deep thoughts.

But the public should be able to judge that for itself.

Once again, Fentie’s penchant for secrecy is preventing that. The public is unable to do so.

This was a major mining conference in the shadow of the Peel Watershed planning commission report.

Cheek-by-jowel with mining execs, geologists and investors in a Vancouver ballroom, Fentie and Lang would have had to calm fears about the Peel decision.

Were those fears calmed? How? What, exactly, was said? What was promised?

Remember, Fentie has not yet publicly responded to the Peel Watershed decision.

This mining conference demanded some kind of leadership on the issue – some hint at the territory’s direction.

All we can surmise is Fentie’s cliche-addled speechwriters have adopted the statesman-as-used-car-salesman approach to governance – apparently, “The territory is open for business.”

We have to assume that exactly what that means was meted out during discreet conversation with those invited to share canapes and drinks with Fentie and Lang on the public’s dime.

That’s how public business is done in the territory these days – in private.

It is beyond time it came back into the public sphere.

(Richard Mostyn)