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Taking responsibility means answering questions, Elias

Hopefully Darius Elias gets the help he needs to deal with his drinking problem. While he's at it, the MLA for Vuntut Gwitchin could take time out to learn how to give a real apology.

Hopefully Darius Elias gets the help he needs to deal with his drinking problem. While he’s at it, the MLA for Vuntut Gwitchin could take time out to learn how to give a real apology, as opposed to the baloney he offered Yukoners this week.

How else do you describe his vacuous non-apology, following the disclosure that he was charged for refusing to blow into a breathalyzer after police pulled him over last week?

Elias apologized to all Yukoners. For precisely what, he would not say. He similarly claimed to take responsibility for his mistakes, but he wouldn’t say what mistakes he had made.

And Elias refuses to answer a single question related to his addictions, leaving us all in the dark about how his drinking has affected his ability to serve the public.

This doesn’t sound like a man who is sincerely sorry. It sounds like someone who is sorry he got caught. Any decent apology includes a clear admission of fault, and Elias hasn’t given that.

At least Elias now admits to having a drinking problem. This won’t surprise Yukon’s political observers, many of whom have suspected as much for some time. Reporters have pressed Elias on this point before, and he’s always either dodged the question or insisted he didn’t have a problem. Presumably, his addiction would have continued to remain an open secret if he hadn’t been busted.

The explanation for Elias’s refusal to speak offered by cabinet’s spindoctor, who sat at Elias’s elbow as he delivered his brief statement, is that “because this is a legal matter that remains before the courts, we won’t be taking questions nor commenting further on the incident itself.”

This is preposterous, as many of the key questions at hand have no bearing on Elias’s court case - especially the core question of how his drinking has impacted his job, which is why this is a public concern in the first place.

But those questions related to Elias’s charge of refusing a breathalyzer test deserve answers, too, such as how much he had to drink before he got behind the wheel, whether he was impaired when police pulled him over, and why he apparently decided to break the law by refusing to take a breathalyzer test. After all, if Elias is genuinely contrite, what harm could come from speaking forthrightly about what mistakes he made? Surely an honourable MLA would simply provide the same information in court? Or, alternately, if he is innocent, why issue the apology in the first place?

The public also deserves to know what sort of “professional help” Elias will seek, and where he intends to find it. When does it start and how long will it take? Does he intend to take a leave from his job as MLA until he’s completed it?

And, more importantly, we need to know how long Elias’s struggle with the bottle has impacted his ability to do his job, and in what way. Would it have contributed to some of his strange behaviour, such as how he missed a scheduled speech he was expected to give as interim leader of the Liberals during an annual meeting in the summer of 2012, leaving a room full of supporters wondering where he was? (He has only explained this absence in the vaguest of terms, saying it was caused by an unspecified personal crisis.)

Did alcoholism contribute to Elias’s departure from the Liberal Party, prompting him to first sit as an Independent, and later join the Yukon Party? He has never offered much of an explanation for all this hopping around, other than he felt it would help his constituents.

Did the Liberals ask Elias to seek help for his alcoholism before he quit, as some have suggested? (Liberals have remained mum on the matter.)

Similarly, did the Yukon Party know he had a drinking problem when it welcomed him aboard, and, if so, did it ask that he receive help at that time? If not, why not? Those are questions that deserve to be answered by the premier, who is similarly refusing to speak.

Has Elias ever sat in the legislature while inebriated? As we reported on Wednesday, while other MLAs were attending to business in the legislature during the last day of the sitting, Elias was seen at the Edgewater Hotel’s bar and restaurant. According to a reliable source, Elias failed to settle his bill when he returned to vote on the territory’s budget and had to later return to the establishment to set things straight. As with everything else, Elias has refused to explain himself.

During his statement, Elias offered some unsolicited advice to the territory’s youth: “When you make a mistake, the first step is that you take responsibility for your actions.” Not a bad idea. Just remember to do as Elias says, not as he does.