Buying the people

Buying the people Political patronage is defined in part as, "the appointment of officials inside and outside government, and the use of government financial resources to reward companies or individuals for their electoral support." While I have not rese

Political patronage is defined in part as, “the appointment of officials inside and outside government, and the use of government financial resources to reward companies or individuals for their electoral support.”

While I have not researched other areas, I can assure you that Watson Lake is no stranger to the subject.

Other than through personal experience and observations, I often look to the Yukon government for details about their contracts.

I don’t believe the financial numbers are entirely complete, it does offer a bit of insight to anyone interested in these contracts. Many are unaware that the Yukon government does maintain a website for all its departments.

It can be accessed at:

Here you can see the bid price of contracts and whether they were awarded by public tender, sole-sourced or invitational bid.

I think everyone would be very interested in this information.

For instance, in Watson Lake over the fiscal years from 2005/06 to 09/10, there was a total capital expenditure of $2.2 million for Community Services alone. Only four contracts involved were publicly tendered, the rest were sole-sourced as patronage. Overall, capital expenditures for Highways and Public Works, Community Development and Health and Social Services totaled $183.5 million. More than 75 per cent of this was sole-sourced or awarded by invitational bid.

Needless to say, only one or two local contractors made big money over that period.

The one contract that really stands out was the construction of what became known as the multi-level care facility.

This was the addition to the Watson Lake hospital in 2006, later dubbed by the media as “Fentie’s $5.5-million boondoggle”. It was not tendered as a single contract.

As you will note in the registry, for the most part it was publicly tendered, but was awarded by patronage to a local political supporter and contractor in a series of very small contracts. These were designed to discourage competitive or interfering bidding.

The interior drywall eventually became soaked with rainwater, and the structure remained full of mould until it was torn down last spring to make room for the new hospital addition.

At most, perhaps a couple of hundred thousand dollars in materials were actually salvaged, including the steel frame. The rest went to the local dump and Yukon taxpayers lost about $5 million in the process.

How’s that for patronage?

And, as you will see, there are many more similar contracts.

If you have the time and patience, the registry is straight from the government and it makes for very informative reading.

And I’ll bet you will find it chock full of sole-sourced and invitational contracts right across the territory.

This is patronage at its best, and it’s our government that’s been providing it.

You can bet they want to continue doing this for at least another five years.

Donald E. Taylor

Watson Lake

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dawson City RCMP are reporting a break and enter on Feb. 25 after two masked men entered a residence, assaulted a man inside with a weapon and departed. (Black Press file)
Two men arrested after Dawson City home invasion

Dawson City RCMP are reporting a break and enter on Feb. 25.… Continue reading

Highways and Public Works Minister Richard Mostyn speaks to reporters at a news conference in Whitehorse on Dec. 21, 2017. New ATIPP laws are coming into effect April 1. (Chris Windeyer/Yukon News file)
New access to information laws will take effect April 1

“Our government remains committed to government openness and accountability.”

City council meeting in Whitehorse on Feb. 8. At Whitehorse city council’s March 1 meeting, members were presented with a bylaw that would repeal 10 bylaws deemed to be redundant or out of date. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Out with the old

Council considers repealing outdated bylaws

A bobcat is used to help clear snow in downtown Whitehorse on Nov. 4. According to Environment Canada, the Yukon has experienced record-breaking precipitation this year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon will have “delayed spring” after heavy winter snowfall

After record levels of precipitation, cold spring will delay melt

Yukon RCMP say they’ve received three reports of youth being extorted online. (Black Press file)
Yukon youth being extorted online

Yukon RCMP say they’ve received three reports of youth being extorted on… Continue reading

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is preparing for a pandemic-era election this October with a number of measures proposed to address COVID-19 restrictions. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City gets set for Oct. 21 municipal election

Elections procedures bylaw comes forward

A rendering of the Normandy Manor seniors housing facility. (Photo courtesy KBC Developments)
Work on seniors housing project moves forward

Funding announced for Normandy Manor

Tom Ullyett, pictured, is the first Yukoner to receive the Louis St-Laurent Award of Excellence from the Canadian Bar Association for his work as a community builder and mentor in the territory. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Tom Ullyett wins lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Bar Association

Ullyett has worked in the Yukon’s justice ecosystem for 36 years as a public sector lawyer and mentor

The Blood Ties outreach van will now run seven nights a week, thanks to a boost in government funding. Logan Godin, coordinator, and Jesse Whelen, harm reduction counsellor, are seen here on May 12, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Blood Ties outreach van running seven nights a week with funding boost

The Yukon government is ramping up overdose response, considering safe supply plan

Ranj Pillai speaks to media about business relief programs in Whitehorse on April 1, 2020. The Yukon government announced Feb.25 that it will extend business support programs until September. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Government extends business relief programs to September, launches new loan

“It really gives folks some help with supporting their business with cash flow.”

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
A look at decisions made by Whitehorse City Council this week

Bylaw amendment Whitehorse city council is moving closer with changes to a… Continue reading

Susie Rogan is a veteran musher with 14 years of racing experience and Yukon Journey organizer. (Yukon Journey Facebook)
Yukon Journey mushers begin 255-mile race

Eleven mushers are participating in the race from Pelly Crossing to Whitehorse

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. As the legislature prepares to return on March 4, the three parties are continuing to finalize candidates in the territory’s 19 ridings. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Nine new candidates confirmed in Yukon ridings

It has been a busy two weeks as the parties try to firm up candidates

Most Read