If anarchism is founded on the observation that since few men are wise enough to rule themselves, even fewer are wise enough to rule others, then none of the scores of people who attended the opening of the government’s spring session could be blamed for alternative thoughts as they filed back out into the bright March sun. They had just had the dubious pleasure of observing the Yukon Party at work, a disconcerting and depressing experience in the extreme.
During question time, a dignified NDP Leader, Liz Hanson, started by taking the government to task on the its bungling of the Peel issue. She asked the premier why, during the election, he hid his party’s agenda from the public?
At the time, the premier declined to comment on the Peel land use plan before final consultations were concluded on the grounds that it would be irresponsible. But well before the final consultations had begun, the government imposed eight new conditions, telling Yukoners its intentions for the watershed, essentially gutting the plan, which has been seven years in the making.
In his reply, Energy, Mines and Resources Minister Brad Cathers explained how, during the election, the Yukon Party had said that the cost of implementing the commission’s plan could bankrupt the territory and called the opposition’s acceptance of the plan irresponsible. The Yukon Party would instead be seeking a plan, which “protected the environment and respected all sectors of the economy.” This reply, read from a prepared script, set the tone for the day and, to every subsequent question from members of the opposition, Cathers would repeat it verbatim.
When NDP MLA Jim Tredger, in a supplementary question, suggested Cathers stop “beating a dead horse” and come up with a different reply, Cathers complained about the member’s “violent terminology,” a complaint which found him mocked by people in the gallery.
It didn’t take long before a group of citizens, impatient with Cathers’ obfuscating replies, scrambled for the exit, encouraging others to follow. After Cathers had repeated the line “a final plan for the Peel that protects the environment while respecting all sectors of the economy” 10 times, a solitary clap was heard from a Yukon Party loyalist. He got it.
The minister for Energy Mines and Resources, clearly unaware his credibility was in free fall, was eventually to repeat that line exactly 30 times, creating a watershed moment for himself which will be hard to shake.
As Cathers embarked on yet another tedious repetition, somebody departing the gallery was clearly heard to offer the minister a brief, concise and to-the-point suggestion about where he ought to take his next vacation. Elaine Taylor, a former minister of the Environment looked uncomfortable. For once she didn’t seem to enjoy the limelight – no ribbons to be cut, no smiles for a harmless photo op. Currie Dixon, the current Environment Minister, looked plain lost, and really, who could blame him? The remainder of cabinet sat motionless, blending nicely with the wallpaper.
Fired up by a large audience – a feisty Darius Elias from the Liberals vigorously demanded answers from the premier who, shifting his head uneasily, gave him none. Pasloski later said that he did not want to upstage his colleague.
Truth being the enemy of power, I suspect he had nothing to offer but Cather’s scripted statements, looped ad nauseam. So much for a fruitful debate.
The Yukon Party clearly pursues the divisive politics which Pasloski purportedly discouraged last fall. By picking their winners in the Peel, the Yukon Party government has assured one thing, ultimately we shall all become big-time losers.
So here we are: if the Yukon Party government continues to blindfold the public on the big issues of the day while pushing its own narrow agenda, it is easy to see a brewing discontent developing into something much more serious.
The distrust of wit is the beginning of tyranny. May every man and woman feel encouraged, in any way they can, to help protect our territory, even if it means defending it against our government. That is our moral duty.
Leave your guns at home.