Not so fast, Mr. Fentie
Recently, I proposed a revamping of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts.
I proposed that committee membership be revised to include three members from the government caucus, two from the Official Opposition and two from the third party. That would still give the government the most members, but would not allow any one party to block the committee’s work.
Presently, the Yukon Party government has four members, the Official Opposition has two and the third party has one.
The governing party can, and has, effectively blocked the work of the committee. In fact, if the Yukon Party members fail to show up for a scheduled meeting, the meeting will not occur because a quorum will not be established.
Within our system of government (known as the Westminster system) the heart of governance and accountability is the legislative assembly. As part of the auditing process, the auditor general examines, on the basis of economy, efficiency and effectiveness, the accounts of the agencies that have spent the public funds and then reports the results of these investigations to the assembly.
The public accounts committee is established as a standing committee of the assembly. Its mandate is to examine the auditor general’s reports and to follow up the issues raised in them. The committee may hold hearings and make recommendations back to the legislative assembly. That is the accountability side of governance. This is the side of government that is presently not serving the interests of Yukoners.
In the September 19 Whitehorse Star, Premier Dennis Fentie is quoted as saying, “What’s Mr. Mitchell’s point? The auditor general appeared before the committee on the matter and that was that.”
Fentie is making my point for me. The auditor general did not meet with the committee. She held a briefing in the legislature for members of the assembly. This briefing of the legislative assembly occurs each year when the auditor general tables a report.
In past years it has been followed by public accounts committee hearings, where officials appeared as witnesses. This year when Madam Fraser tabled her report, Fentie, the minister of Finance, did not bother to come down from his office and attend. Neither did deputy premier Elaine Taylor.
It is precisely this cavalier attitude towards Yukon’s finances that has left our $36.5 million dollars in a very long nine-year term of jeopardy. Anyone who believes we are now getting back all our money has only to look south of the Canadian border to see how risky these financial markets have grown.
Fentie ignored the Financial Administration Act. He broke the very law which was put in place to prevent just this kind of thing from happening. In light of those facts, the work of the public accounts committee was being blocked at every turn. There presently is no accountability for this government.
My proposal would go a long way to remedying that.
Ironically, the auditor general also presented the assembly members with a second, far less controversial report on the Canada Winter Games, which Yukon Party members were quite willing to bring before the public accounts committee.
There is an opportunity for members of all three political parties to restore accountability in the system and faith with the electorate. No, Fentie, it is not me who has let Yukoners down. This all happened on your watch. I will do my job, but I will not be part of a political charade. Let’s fix the system and move on.
In closing I would like to pose a question: How may Yukoners would feel confident investing a substantial portion of their life savings in the ABCP market and being told they must wait up to nine years to get their money and interest back?
I thought so.
Well, that is precisely what has happened to your $36.5 million and this Yukon Party government is blocking the public accounts committee from doing its due diligence on your behalf!
It must be fixed.
Arthur Mitchell, Leader of the
Recently, we have watched the results of two investigative federal committee meetings directed towards the Conservatives.
One dealt with questionable money being received by former Conservative prime minister Brian Mulroney. The Conservative members attempted to make a fiasco out of it. The report is still pending, but then Harper called an election even though he had set a fixed date in 2009. Now, we might never know the results of that investigation.
Next was a committee’s investigation of wrongful spending by the Conservatives in the last election.
Again, the same Conservative members sitting on the committee did their best to sidetrack the investigation even with wrong information, which they later admitted was wrong.
Conservative Party members called before the committee either did not turn up or walked out of the meetings.
Things started to get hot over the Conservatives’ questionable spending in the last election, and once again, even though Harper had set an election date in 2009, he called an election. Now, a second committee investigating questionable spending may not be allowed to complete its probe into the Harper government.
Weeks before the election was called, Conservative ministers started to show up in the Yukon, on taxpayers’ money, to announce the big money — correction, taxpayers’ cash — to be spent to help the former owners of that money.
At the same time, the local Conservative candidate was hosting barbecue cookouts or morning breakfast meetings. Pre-election money being spent for the local candidate? You answer that one.
Whether that was legal election tax money being spent is questionable, but an election had not been called and the prime minister legally, maybe not morally, could send his ministers out on flights to make pre-election announcements on taxpayers’ dollars.
The point is: it is our money being spent for travel. And the money we are getting back was also ours. We must have been over- taxed. You try that and you will end up in jail for stealing!
Now we are being flooded by questionable Conservative propaganda coming through the mail from Rod Bruinooge, a Conservative MP out of Winnipeg. Don’t attempt to call his office to ask why he is sending his junk mail into Whitehorse as you will not get a comment.
Illegal election spending? Not necessarily, even though it has a “no postage required for the return pamphlet,” so taxes will pay for that. The Conservative MP has skirted policy by mailing it out 10 days before the election was called.
Was it to help a Conservative candidate get elected?
Would the Winnipeg MP have had previous knowledge of the call, even though Harper clearly said he would meet with the opposition leaders to see if a call was necessary?
You answer that one.
Do we vote for a Winnipeg MP? Only if you are a person living in that constituency.
Then why would he send Conservative propaganda here, or was it possibly to help a hopeful Conservative candidate with pamphlets promoting the Conservative Party.
What else lies in the dark room of the Conservatives?
Being right and then morally right have two far different meanings.
The final question is, do we elect a candidate just to add another number towards a majority government or do we elect a person who truly will represent his/her people and stand up to a powerful leader.
In some countries a powerful leader is known to be a dictator. That should never be allowed in Canada!
Murray J. Martin