Premier Dennis Fentie’s comments in Friday’s paper (“Justice probing Finance officials’ role in frozen $36.5 million”) demonstrate remarkably poor judgment on his part.
Despite the auditor general’s finding that the government’s unwise investments in asset-backed commercial papers violated the Financial Administration Act, I am not convinced there is a real need for the Justice department to investigate.
I am personally satisfied with Sheila Fraser’s conclusion that there was no malicious intent involved.
However, now that Justice officials have decided to investigate, the premier should not be taking any public position on what they may or may not find.
As minister of the department under scrutiny, Fentie should restrict his comments to saying that his officials have been instructed to co-operate fully with the investigation.
Much more disturbing is the fact that Fentie is using the weight of his office as premier to send a signal to Justice officials what conclusion he expects them to reach.
Whether or not he intended to do so, the premier has indirectly interfered in an investigative process that should be completely free of political influence.
If this were a criminal investigation, he would be forced to resign.
There are many unanswered questions surrounding the investments that have put $36.5 million of taxpayers’ money in limbo. These questions should have been the subject of open hearings by the Public Accounts Committee.
That committee has broad powers to investigate all aspects of any financial matter within the Yukon government, and could even have compelled Justice officials to appear in public and give their views regarding the legality of these investments.
Now that the premier’s colleagues have blocked that avenue (compounded by the Liberal leader’s failure as chair of the Public Accounts Committee), the inevitable result is that these questions will once again dominate the upcoming legislative sitting.
The good news is that, since the premier has already determined what the Justice inquiry will find, he won’t have the luxury of hiding behind the fact that the matter is under investigation.
Todd Hardy, MLA, leader of the Third Party, Whitehorse
There’s more to
land than mining
Re Yukon quartz mining act review:
I wish to make two key points.
First, the basic premise of the free-entry system of mining is that mining is the first and best use of public lands.
It does not enable a consideration of what other values that land holds, including conservation, traditional use, subsistence harvest, tourism, wildlife and recreation before it is allocated to mineral exploration.
This is deeply prejudicial against all citizens who hold alternative values and interests in the land.
Second, as you describe, “the first phase, underway now, will focus on the administration of mining claims with the intent of making the process of staking and maintaining quartz mining claims more efficient and less costly.”
Given that the first premise is deeply flawed and unjust, it follows that the second premise contained in this statement, that staking of claims should be made efficient and less costly, is equally offensive and must also be rejected.
In conclusion, the only fair course of action would be, in fact, to eliminate the free-entry system and replace it with other land-use mechanisms.
This is the course of action that I recommend.
rights threatens economy
It is all fine that the Alaska government is making it easier and providing support with getting their landlocked natural resources out of Alaska to an outside market.
However, there is danger in ignoring the elephant in the room — Canadian aboriginal rights and title.
Regardless of who builds and owns any pipeline that is proposed to transect Canadian soils, the government of Canada and the Yukon government have not dealt with their legal obligations with respect to White River First Nation.
First Nations across Canada have launched legal battles against provincial, territorial and federal governments and they are winning.
These court cases both in the Yukon and in Canada only strengthen the position of White River First Nation.
Canada’s auditor general Sheila Fraser has repeatedly found that Canada is not living up to the intent of legal agreements signed with First Nations in the Yukon and in Canada.
Alaska lawmakers should be very concerned at Canada’s lack of engagement with respect to White River First Nation on this proposed project.
White River First Nation has been ready and has been attempting to engage both the Yukon government and Canada, but our efforts have been stonewalled.
The governments seem to be playing a wait-and-see game with White River First Nation.
This lack of respect is a very dangerous game to play when the stakes are the Alaska and US economy.
We can spell out for you Premier Dennis Fentie, Indian and Northern Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl and Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin what you will see — monies, time and political will invested on the Alaska side that will be stalled by federal inaction on the Canadian side.
We ask that the governments put the money on the table to address the issues.
You gave $500 million for the McKenzie Valley pipeline project that has one-tenth the capacity of the proposed Alaska Highway pipeline project.
We suggest that you start with these numbers and work your way up.
Palin, please don’t be blinded by friendly accords and visits to your state.
Aboriginal interests, rights and title of the White River First Nation have not been extinguished.
White River chief and council