Letter to the Editor

Paper shufflers threaten miners Private industry has an adage: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Paper shufflers threaten miners

Private industry has an adage: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

The businesspeople have learned that it is a total waste of manpower, money and resources to put bodies to work on a project that is completely unnecessary, and is neither practical nor cost-effective.

Unfortunately, our governments have not learned the lessons of private industry.

I refer, in particular, to the open house public meetings of the new Yukon Placer Mining Secretariat.

Perhaps a subtitle for their public presentations should be: “How a new and unnecessary layer of government bureaucracy intends to drive the Yukon placer mining industry out of business.”

In my opinion, we are currently paying two or three bureaucrats to monitor, supervise and penalize each working placer miner in the territory.

Eighty per cent of these high-paid clerks shuffle papers to one another, without actually creating anything.

Environmental and fisheries concerns are both over-regulated and over-protected at present, but there seems to be no one in government who will tell these empire builders to stop their excesses.

While it may be noble for community college graduates to want to eat tofu and to wear socks and sandals, and to save the pandas and the whales, it is not logical to put these idealistic amateurs in positions of authority, regulating an industry they know nothing about.

I am reminded of the early Soviet guided missiles: they wouldn’t work, and you couldn’t fire them.

Logic and common sense would dictate that 80 per cent of the useless paper shufflers be transferred to where they could do some good, perhaps to the passport office.

Where will we put all of these useless, self-serving people when they finally succeed in driving the Yukon placer mining industry out of business?

Perhaps, only then, will our governments learn the important lesson: “ If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

“Black Mike” Laforet


Workers’ comp threatens mining

Open letter to the Yukon Workers’ Health and Compensation Board:

 It was with utter disbelief that the directors of the Yukon Chamber of Mines read the media reports of the Yukon Workers’ Health and Compensation Board’s intent to pursue five criminal charges against a local geophysical and geological consulting firm.

The charges arose over the firm’s loss of an employee to a bear attack.

This letter constitutes notice to workers’ compensation board of the Yukon Chamber of Mine’s intention to publicly fight these charges with any and all resources available to it.

It pledges to continue the fight until the workers’ compensation withdraws the charges and issues a public apology to the family of Jean-Francois Page, his hundreds of friends and co-workers and the geological firm targeted by the charges.

Over the past 25 years, the member companies and individual member prospectors of the chamber have amassed nearly a million person days of time spent working in the deep bush surrounded by wild bears.

In that time there have been two bear attacks on exploration workers: last year’s unfortunate incident involving Jean-Francois Page and a second attack, 22 years ago, resulting in serious injury to geologist Al Doherty.

Al Doherty now teaches the Yukon Mining Exploration Training Program, which includes bush safety and bear-aware courses.

J.F. Page was a recent graduate of the program and was very well trained and equipped to deal with the rigors and risks associated with working in wild settings.

The firm that Page was working for was instrumental in bringing these courses to the Yukon and contributed a huge amount of energy, work in kind, and cold hard cash towards the Exploration Training Program’s successful implementation into the everyday operations of all local Yukon mining exploration firms.

Workers’ compensation contributed nothing whatsoever.


In the opinion of the Yukon Chamber of Mines, to now have a runaway, unaccountable government agency publicly attack such a caring firm is callous, cavalier and opportunistic.

The notion of government-appointed board deciding that it can regulate the behaviour of wild animals in the Yukon wilderness is utter nonsense and the individuals responsible for laying the charges should be reprimanded or dismissed.

Again, the Yukon Chamber of Mines will not rest until the individuals responsible for this flagrant abuse of authority by the workers’ compensation board are brought to light and are publicly chastised for their actions.

John Witham, president, on the behalf of the directors and members of the Yukon Chamber of Mines, Whitehorse

Banning incandescent bulbs

A recent letter to the Yukon News pointed out that incandescent light bulbs produce heat.

It went on to state that in the Yukon winter this could be an advantage over the use of compact fluorescent lights.

In the Yukon, one is never quite sure when the needs of our local electrical grid will be exceeded.

All it would take is one or two industrial users to come on stream, hook up to the grid and diesel generators would be required to provide enough electricity for everyone.

This could mean having the diesel generators at the Whitehorse dam running 24 hours a day.

Not only would this emit greenhouse gases, but there would be other pollutants that would create smog for the good citizens who live in Riverdale and Downtown.

There is also the noise factor.

By reducing electrical demand through the use of low-energy compact fluorescent light bulbs, the day the diesels are switched on can be postponed.

While it is true home oil furnaces also produce similar pollutants to diesel generators, there are many other ways to heat a home.

These range from heat pumps to propane furnaces to wood stoves, to name but a few.

Whatever source of lighting or heating a Yukoner chooses, one of the most important things to do is to spend money on insulating homes.

It doesn’t matter what a person uses for heat, if the home is drafty all that heat is wasted on heating the outside.

Once a home is adequately insulated, then consider different light sources.

The Yukon Conservation Society recommends compact fluorescent light bulbs because the low amount of energy they use ensures more hydro-generated electrical power is available for other uses.

It must be pointed out that the contents of compact fluorescent bulbs are not ecologically friendly.

They contain mercury vapour, and used bulbs should be disposed of at a Household Hazardous Waste day.

There’s one coming up on May 26, at the Whitehorse landfill.

Lewis Rifkind, energy co-ordinator

Yukon Conservation Society, Whitehorse