ministers must explain themselves

There is much that is disturbing about Premier Dennis Fentie's private plans for the future of the Crown-owned Yukon Energy Corp. and his gaming of the Peel Watershed planning process.

There is much that is disturbing about Premier Dennis Fentie’s private plans for the future of the Crown-owned Yukon Energy Corp. and his gaming of the Peel Watershed planning process.

But, saving the deeper analysis for later, one wonders, amid it all, where are the ministers who should be guiding the departmental activities?

Does the territory have a cabinet? Or one-man rule?

Fentie is not the minister responsible for the Yukon Energy Corp. Jim Kenyon is.

So why is Fentie so deeply involved in talks about the future of the corporation? And why is Fentie handling all the questions?

Kenyon has been missing in action throughout the crisis, uttering not a single sentence about the future of the corporation he’s supposed to be responsible for.

The secret ATCO discussions seem to revolve around Fentie. Why?

And then there is the whole affair of the compromising of the Peel Watershed planning process.

Environment, which was integral to the planning, is the bailiwick of deputy premier Elaine Taylor.

She’s around town, often seen smiling brightly at cheque presentations and community breakfasts.

But it was Fentie, not Taylor, who berated Environment’s deputy minister Kelvin Leary in a telephone conversation about the department’s well-considered analysis of the future prospects of the Peel Watershed.

Sitting in on the irate call to Leary was Energy, Mines and Resources Minister Brad Cathers.

Taylor? Like Kenyon, she was absent.

And, following Leary’s dressing down, Environment submitted an anemic four-page analysis to the Peel planning commission.

So apparently Fentie’s bullyboy tactics worked, robbing the commission of information it needed to draft a responsible land-use plan.

Either Taylor was aware of the situation involving Leary, approved and was incapable of delivering the stern words about the honest planning paper herself. Or she was not aware of it.

Neither situation bodes well for her. In both, she’s allowed Fentie to undermine her leadership of the department.

In light of this, one wonders about her competency as a minister, let alone deputy premier.

Today, thanks to a retroactive pay raise the MLAs received in November 2007, Kenyon and Taylor make more than $100,000 a year as ministers. There’s a $12,000 expense account on top of that.

That’s a fair wage for the job. The money is paid for taking responsibility for the portfolios an MLA manages.

To earn it, they must do more than gladhand at public events.

Sometimes you have to take responsibility for the actions of your department. Or your colleagues.

It’s time Kenyon and Taylor stepped up and explained things. Or they should step out, and save the public a few hundred thousand a year. (Richard Mostyn)

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