After listening to some very good speeches by Yukoners concerned about the state of democracy in the Yukon and the Yukon Party’s plans for the Peel, I entered the legislature for the first time since I moved to the Yukon six years ago.
My hour in the legislature was a disappointing experience. When Liz Hanson asked questions regarding the new Peel plan put forward by the Yukon Party earlier that week, Premier Darrell Pasloski said just a few words before having Resources Minister Brad Cathers reply on the remaining questions.
Cathers did not directly answer any of the questions asked. He simply read prepared statements, which did not address the question asked but instead referred Yukoners to the website where they can give their perspective on the Yukon Party Peel plan.
But the biggest shock to me was that the minister of the Department of Environment had nothing to say! This sends a very clear message to me that the Yukon Party’s focus in the Peel watershed is on Energy, Mines and Resources. Where is the voice of the environment in this so-called “more fair and balanced” plan?
Other questions asked during question period were not answered any more directly than the Peel questions. Minister Nixon (Tourism) did not answer Sandy Silver’s question as to why the Dredge No. 4 closing wasn’t discussed with Prime Minister Stephen Harper in person during his visit earlier this year. The only thing Nixon could do was to try to ridicule Silver’s questions and talk about a motion he just put forward as well as the concerns that were raised in the spring that the federal government first made its decision. I still have no clue why he didn’t discuss Dredge No. 4 with Prime Minister Harper, though.
Can someone please explain to me how question period is helpful in this way? If questions are asked but no answers given and no real debate takes place, how can we call this a democracy?
To me, it felt like the Yukon Party was doing everyone else a “favour” by just being there, pretending to care. The whole theatre I witnessed had nothing to do with governing the territory – all I saw were people reading statements. Other ministers were clearly bored and were just waiting for the hour to finish.
Yes, I know that the Yukon Party has a majority government (due to Canada’s outdated election system currently in place), but they are supposed to represent all Yukoners, just as Ryan Leef is supposed to do for us in Ottawa.
I cannot come to any other conclusion than that they don’t care about all Yukoners. The Yukoners they care about are the ones who agree with them. They say they want to hear from us regarding the Peel watershed, but they never said they are going to listen. If they cared for listening to all Yukoners, they would answer questions during question period and would not have come up with their own Peel plan.
In short, I am very displeased with what I witnessed last week and cannot believe that this is the way this beautiful territory is governed. Call me naive, but I believe politics can be more in-depth, caring and democratic than this.
Judith van Gulick