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Money for nothing

Even with the Yukon Party cabinet down a member, the Yukon public is paying more than $600,000 in salaries. We would like to know what, exactly, is it getting for its money? It certainly isn't getting much in the way of leadership.

Even with the Yukon Party cabinet down a member, the Yukon public is paying more than $600,000 in salaries.

We would like to know what, exactly, is it getting for its money?

It certainly isn’t getting much in the way of leadership.

In fact, Premier Dennis Fentie’s failure in this regard has now cost the Yukon Party its majority and knocked the day-to-day operations of the territorial government into chaos.

Nobody knows this better than Jenny Trapnell.

Trapnell is the intergovernmental relations officer who was dispatched at the 11th hour to sign the Whitehorse Declaration on behalf of the Yukon.

Drafted during the Northern Forum’s ninth general assembly, the declaration bears the signatures of more than two dozen dignitaries who participated in the forum, including Eva Aariak, the premier of Nunavut, leaders from Finland, South Korea, China, Japan and the premiers, governors and chairs of numerous Russian republics.

And, now, “Jenny from the Yukon,” as Trapnell was called.

Why a mid-level civil servant was tasked to sign alongside the high-ranking officials at a diplomatic function isn’t clear. She isn’t even the branch director.

This in no way is a slight against Trapnell. She did her duty. But her superiors should never have put her in that position.

Despite being scheduled to attend the Northern Forum, which must have been in planning for months, Fentie decided to leave town. Trapnell then was nominated his stand-in.

But it gets weirder.

“Premier Fentie is on his way to my community to have a meeting with me,” said Aariak at the forum.

Think about that for a minute ....

You must realize the international event was to be Fentie’s first public appearance after Cathers publicly called him a liar and quit his team.

Which is why we believe Trapnell provided the most cogent explanation for Fentie’s absence.

“I can say the premier was very ... we hosted this meeting here and ... I can’t say very much because I’m not in a position to do so,” she said.

On one level it’s so bizarre, it’s funny. But it’s also serious.

Consider the message it sends.

Officials from around the circumpolar North fly to Whitehorse to attend the forum and, when it comes time to sign the final declaration, which lays out ways they will work together on climate change and trade, Fentie, the host, begs off.

In their stead the officials do not get deputy premier Elaine Taylor.

They don’t get Education Minister Patrick Rouble.

They don’t get Public Service Minister Glenn Hart, Justice Minister Marian Horne or Highways Minister Archie Lang.

They don’t even get Janet Moodie, the deputy minister of the executive council office.

The ranking officials are all AWOL.

Instead, a minor official is tasked with the job.

What does that say about the importance of the declaration?

What does that say to the leaders who travelled thousands of kilometres to participate in the forum?

What does that say about how the territory is currently functioning?

Frankly, it is embarrassing.

And it raises still more questions about the competency of the current Yukon cabinet, which has been mute for months, ever since details of Fentie’s dictatorial and deceitful leadership style surfaced.

The government is so deep in damage control it can’t function.

Yet the cabinet ministers collect their paycheques. That costs the territory more than $50,000 a month.

So we ask, beyond cheque-signing events and barbecues, what services are they currently providing? (Richard Mostyn)