Fentie’s rogue agenda for the YDC/YEC

Fentie's rogue agenda for the YDC/YEC The recent resignation of four respected and dedicated members of the Yukon Development and Energy corporations raises many troubling questions. To better understand what is happening, and why you should be as conce

The recent resignation of four respected and dedicated members of the Yukon Development and Energy corporations raises many troubling questions. To better understand what is happening, and why you should be as concerned as I am, I need to give you a little history first.

In 1997, the NDP government terminated an agreement with ATCO to manage the assets of Yukon Energy Corp. and to empower its board of directors, who are publicly appointed from across the Yukon, to take over those duties and responsibilities.

The government of the day argued taking over local control of energy resources through public ownership would provide more benefits to more Yukoners. And it was shown to be right.

The management change resulted in annual savings to taxpayers of $1 million, more jobs for local workers, more contracts for local businesses and lower costs for electrical consumers.

Fentie now wants to undo all that by returning the management of the publicly owned generation, transmission and distribution assets of this Crown corporation back to ATCO.

His idea of vision is looking back to the future. And he is doing it without involving the Yukon public and first getting a mandate from them.

According to Willard Phelps, the former chair of the YDC/YEC, Fentie wants to give ATCO defacto control over managing all our energy resources, including the recently announced $160-million Mayo B hydroelectric project.

ATCO managed the territory’s energy resources from the mid-1980s to 1997, until it was fired by the NDP government for doing such a “lousy job,” to use Phelps’ own words.

“You’ve got to have five projects you can move ahead with on a timely basis,” Phelps, who once led the Yukon Party, says in an interview in Monday’s Yukon News.

This was not done when ATCO was in charge.

“The only reason we’re doing Mayo B is because it’s the only green project that we can bring in quickly and that’s largely because there’s a footprint there,” Phelps adds.

But a better and less-expensive project might be able to move ahead now if ATCO had done a better job of managing YEC and planning for the future.

I first asked Fentie about his plans to privatize the Yukon Energy Corp. this April, during the spring sitting of the Yukon legislative assembly.

He categorically denied his government was “involved in any process to privatize any public corporation in the Yukon, whether it be energy, hospitals or whatever the case may be.”

He used the word “rationalization” to describe the highly secretive process he has initiated with ATCO behind the backs of the board members at Yukon Energy, a process that will result in less local control of our energy resources.

Phelps calls this “backdoor privatization, meaning it would be worked so that the Yukon government retains its heritage generation.”

So where are the hard facts and numbers to prove the present structure is not working and such drastic change is necessary?

In my mind, there are none, because the board of Yukon Energy has been doing a good job lately of managing our energy resources.

The recent resignations are unfortunate, because the board has accomplished some important and impressive work on behalf of Yukoners since Phelps was appointed chair in 2004.

Among other things, it oversaw construction of the first phase of the Carmacks-to-Stewart Crossing transmission line, and brought the project in on budget and on time. It also found new capacity at the Aishihik and Whitehorse dams and completed a visioning plan of Yukon’s long-term energy needs.

It was also operationally and administratively efficient and maintained good working relationships with key stakeholders, including First Nations. Even the Office of the Auditor General of Canada recently praised its operations, says one of the directors who resigned last week.

This was a very active and able board and the expertise, knowledge and dedication the members who resigned brought to their meetings will be difficult to replace.

Fentie has embarked upon a course of action that, very simply, will result in the privatization of our publicly owned corporation. And he’s doing it without going to the public for a mandate.

This rogue premier is selling out our energy assets without any public discussion. He’s doing it secretively and he’s doing it without involving the publicly appointed directors at Yukon Energy Corp.

In closing, I call once more on the premier to tell us his long-term plans for these corporations that have served Yukoners so well in recent years.

And if he does plan to restructure the corporations and hand over their management to the private sector, once more reducing local control over our energy resources, he needs to tell us.

Anything less would be a betrayal of the public trust.

Todd Hardy, NDP Leader


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

Just Posted

Yukon RCMP are making an appeal for information in the case of Mary Ann Ollie, who was murdered in Ross River last year and whose case remains unsolved. (Black Press file)
Yukon youth being extorted online

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

Fines for contravening the fire ban start at $1,150 and could go as high as $100,000. File photo
Yukon campgrounds will open on May 1 this year. (Black Press file)
Yukon campgrounds to open early

Yukon campgrounds will open on May 1 this year. The early opening… Continue reading

Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce executive director Susan Guatto and program manager Andrei Samson outside the chamber office in downtown Whitehorse Feb. 23. (Stephanie Waddell, Yukon News)
When business models shift

Whitehorse chamber offers digital marketing workshop

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: The aesthetics and economics of highway strips

One of the many cultural experiences you enjoy while driving from Whitehorse… Continue reading

Artwork by Grade 2 student Faith showing her thanks for everyone.
Artwork by Grade 2 student Faith showing her thanks for everyone. (Submitted)
Yukon kids express gratitude for nature, pets and friends in art campaign

More than 50 children submitted artwork featuring things they are grateful for

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

David Malcolm, 40, has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm a police officer after an incident in Whitehorse on Feb. 18. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Man resists arrest, assaults officer

A Whitehorse man has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm… Continue reading

Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on Aug. 4, 2020. A site on Robert Service Way near the Alaska Highway has been selected as the future home of Yukon Energy’s energy storage project. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Site selected for Yukon Energy battery project

Planned to be in service by the end of 2022

Most Read