Death by a thousand gaffes

Would you rather die in a lion’s maw, or be gnawed to death by squirrels and their ilk? This is the question Energy, Mines and Resources…

Would you rather die in a lion’s maw, or be gnawed to death by squirrels and their ilk?

This is the question Energy, Mines and Resources Archie Lang should be asking himself.

Lang is the minister responsible for forestry.

Apparently he takes the job literally.

Lang has a home on the Fox Farm Road, tucked away behind the Meadow Lakes Golf Course. You can see it from the Yukon River. It is surrounded by trees, and is quite lovely.

Recently, Lang decided to thin the boreal forest out a bit, according to recent news reports.

Lang hired a contractor.

The trees were cut.

And the contractor illegally dumped the limbs, branches and stumps close to a nearby beaver dam.

As happy as the beaver may have been, some other resident wasn’t. A complaint was filed on December 5, and Environment officials investigated.

The contractor was told to clean the place up and take the material to a private lot or the dump. (It’s unclear if Lang was later charged for the tipping fees.)

Environment officials also discovered the trees had been cut from Lang’s property and the adjoining Crown land. Roughly 0.16 of a hectare of public land was illegally cleared.

See, you need a permit to do such things. The permit is free, but required by law.

Lang didn’t get one. (Did we mention Lang is the minister responsible for forestry?)

Lang said he was, er, Firesmarting his lot.

He dismissed the goof with an “ooops!” and pronounced the area better for it.

Now, Yukon officials will have to conduct a follow-up investigation in the spring to determine how much damage has been done to public land.

But the tale doesn’t end there.

In the course of investigating the clearcut affair, officials discovered Lang’s boathouse and floating dock weren’t permitted either.

The two structures predate Lang’s 2001 purchase of the property. However, officials note that it is not clear who, exactly, built them.

Lang’s neighbours now have until the end of January to comment on the presence of the structures.

However, given the house’s proximity to the Yukon River, upriver from Whitehorse, one wonders what other shortcuts were taken. For example, is the septic system approved and up to snuff?

Lang’s tenure as minister has been marked by several questionable affairs.

Though he has started paying off his outstanding government loans, he was one of two high-profile deadbeats in cabinet.

He promised the Yukon Agricultural Association land to build a fairgrounds. He had no such authority to do it.

He was supposed to give written authorization to slaughter the Northern Splendour Reindeer last May. No such document exists.

He was supposed to consult with First Nations about changes to the oil and gas disposition process. He didn’t.

And, roughly two years ago, he was sued for selling a squirrel-infested house for $220,000. The new buyers claimed they weren’t told about the rodent problem, which was extensive.

A pattern is emerging — Lang is a maverick with little regard for due process and law.

The question for voters is whether such a guy makes a good candidate for a minister. (RM).