Letter to the Editor

Stop spending taxpayers’ money on animal abuse As a citizen who has come to care about Yukon sled dogs, I respectfully ask that the Tourism…

Stop spending taxpayers’ money on animal abuse

As a citizen who has come to care about Yukon sled dogs, I respectfully ask that the Tourism Department cease its funding of the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race (a.k.a. ‘the toughest sled dog race in the world’).

It is irresponsible for your department to spend $200,000 annually to perpetuate sled dog suffering and death. Of this funding, $150,000 comes from the Tourist Marketing Fund, which was originally intended to help make the Quest self-sufficient, not dependent on government financial support.

This money comes from Yukon taxpayers as well as from other Canadian citizens whose tax dollars benefit the operations of the government of Yukon.

You should be aware that not all Yukon or Canadian taxpayers give you permission to use such a large amount of money for this purpose. I also ask that your government immediately take steps to protect by legislation, sled dogs who are used in sled dog racing (entertainment) and in the sled dog tourism industry.

In 2007, a veteran Yukon Quest musher brought up the issue of Yukon Quest mushers culling unwanted dogs (including puppies) and asked that the Quest organization secure a pledge from prospective Quest racers that they do not cull dogs.

The disgraceful Quest organization does not have a policy on culling and, to emphasize the lack of care for the ‘canine athletes’ (as they are referred to by the Quest), a Quest spokesman told media that the culling issue was ‘not the Quest organization’s business’.

Furthermore, three dogs were killed in the 2007 Quest race and many more were injured or driven past the point of exhaustion.

I am concerned about the common way sled dogs are kept in the Yukon (tied up on short chains when they are not racing, training or pulling tourists around winter and summer). Is this the image the Yukon wants to project to the world, the image of a chained sled dog?

Please be advised that, when it comes to the Yukon, I will give extra thought to making my vacation plans (‘Larger than Life’ is your tourism department’s slogan). In addition to the world-renowned beauty of your territory, the animal cruelty in the Yukon also appears to be ‘Larger than Life.’

You do not need to sponsor animal cruelty in order to attract visitors!

As Victor Hugo once said: “You can see the level of a people by the way it treats ‘its’ animals.”

 This is the 21st century and we still are not behaving as an evolved species.

Cid Martins

via e-mail

Taking from the poor

 to feed the rich

Open letter to Jim Kenyon, minister responsible for Yukon Energy:

I thought Archie Lang took the cake when it came to playing Scrooge by not helping Yukoners with the burden of high electrical bills, but it appears that you are the scroogiest.

Your constituent’s electricity costs have increased approximately 30 per cent (15 per cent for loss of half of Rate Stabilization, 10 per cent for diesel fuel surcharge and five per cent for Yukon Electrical) since last spring when you took over the reigns of Yukon Energy/Yukon Development corporations.

Electrical ratepayers were awaiting your government’s promise to lower our bills when the Minto mine was connected.

Now we find out that the magic number of this relief is 3.48 per cent. Wow! Your bureaucrats at Yukon Energy, who laid out a 15-per-cent decrease, were simply playing with numbers to have one customer subsidize another.

Although we are supposedly guaranteed an average of $3 million per year in new sales to the Minto mine, your personnel can only now come up with a decrease as minuscule as 3.48 per cent. This is what firm ratepayers will get for building a transmission line to a mine. The shareholder( i.e. your government) will get the rest, which of course is more than half of this $3 million.

What do you say to this philosophy?

Speaking of philosophy, you preach that your government must get rid of all the rate stabilization program this spring as you assert it represents a subsidy, which sends the wrong message to customers on the true price of electricity. This, in turn, does not promote conservation, you say.

Well, sir, why do you then say it is OK for one residential customer to subsidize another, i.e. those who use more electricity to subsidize those who use less? (What about those families who use electricity for heating, especially in rental units where there is no option nor opportunity to access a conservation program?).

Or even greater, the consumer cross-subsidy to those communities that burn diesel to produce electricity by those who use hydro? (How do you expect these communities to explore alternative clean generation?)

What this basically boils down to is a conservative mentality … you wish to increase the amount of profits to the corporations (Yukon Energy and Yukon Development), even though they theoretically belong to all Yukoners. This is so you can “build-it-and-they-will come” … in other words you need the money in the coffers to continue the grid to Stewart (some $40 million) and now we hear you want to build a much larger facility at the Mayo dam than in the original resource plan (now some $100 million).

These are very likely important projects for the future, but to take money from the pockets of Yukoners at a time of economic uncertainty proves very un-Santa-like.

Not all Yukoners make the necessary wages to budget such increases for a commodity which is needed.

With slower times coming, there will very likely be even more vulnerable families.

My major question to you at this time is: Will you give your constituents a gift for Christmas and the new year by telling us your government will not increase our electrical bills by yet another 15 per cent in March, as you have signalled? Give us the chance to see how our economy will go!

Roger Rondeau, president, Utilities Consumers Group