Letter to the Editor

Fentie’s smoke and mirrors I am compelled to respond to the recent comments about my involvement in the retroactive pay raise for Yukon MLAs.

Fentie’s smoke and mirrors

I am compelled to respond to the recent comments about my involvement in the retroactive pay raise for Yukon MLAs.

I support completely the recommendations made by Patrick Michael to increase MLA salaries. It was long overdue.

Making the pay raise retroactive was not part of the initial recommendations and I voiced my objections to that part of the salary package at the time it was brought forward.

In fact, I voiced my objections to anyone who would listen, including other members of the review committee.

Based on the recent comments by Premier Dennis Fentie that I’m somehow responsible for the retroactive clause, it is clear that my critics were not listening.

I spoke with MLAs from both of the other parties before second reading and clearly there was no support for a unanimous decision to change the effective date of the salary increase.

This was a take-it-or-leave-it deal.

I am a reasonable person and I ultimately chose to accept the deal as presented, because any other choice would have resulted in no salary increase at all for any of the MLAs.

If I am to be criticized for making the conscious decision to support the salary package in spite of my reservations, it is better than being criticized for blocking the salary increase over a personal issue.

Recent comments by Fentie that I was the architect of the retroactive pay increase are ludicrous.

Fentie scorned the MLA salary review process from the outset, refused to participate in the discussions and proudly declared that he was blissfully unaware of the salary package details.

By his own admission, Fentie does not know how much he gets paid, nor does he care.

So the question remains: are these the actions of an exemplary public servant as we are led to believe, or the failings of a poor financial manager?

I’m inclined to think the latter, but I will let the results speak for themselves.

Arthur Mitchell

MLA Copperbelt

Or, Mitchell’s smoke

and mirrors…

Open letter to Arthur Mitchell:

I feel compelled to respond to the misrepresentation of facts you portrayed in your letter to the media about the MLA pay raise issue.

I have been struggling for weeks about your statements that you didn’t support the MLA pay increase and were opposed to it.

Please help me to understand.

The minutes of the members’ services board meeting of October 30, meeting No. 6, shows you present and a part of the unanimous agreement to the report tabled by Patrick Michael.

The minutes show unanimity of the board and an effective date of June 1, 2007. 

Help me understand how you opposed this while joining the unanimous vote in favour of it.

The minutes of the members’ services board meeting of December 14, 2007, meeting No. 7, also shows you present.

The board unanimously “AGREED, on the motion of Mr. Mitchell, seconded by Hon. Mr. Kenyon, THAT the Minutes of Meeting No. 6 of the members’ services board of October 30, 2007 be adopted as presented.”

Please help me to understand how you not only supported the report of unanimity but actually made the initial motion to confirm this support.

Not only did you appear to fully support the motion in its entirety, but you also were fully supportive of the retroactive clause.

In regards to the minutes of the December 4 meeting, you stated in a December 19th e-mail, that “the minutes accurately reflect my recollection of the decisions made…”.

In other words, there is no mistake in your motion to accept the unanimous decision. I have difficulty in understanding how your repeated support of the unanimous decision in committee is now being portrayed by you that you “tried to stop the retroactive clause.”

As the board is a committee of the legislative assembly and therefore no one but the legislative assembly may release the record, I would be pleased to put a motion on the floor this spring to release the minutes if there is further confusion over your stance on the matter.

Jim Kenyon

MLA, Porter Creek North

Water meters could

do more harm than good

Open letter to mayor and council:

The idea behind water meters being installed in every home in the city of Whitehorse looks good, or at least reasonable, at first glance.

But if one were to look deeper, it becomes clear that there are other and better ways to achieve the same objective of less water use — and by extension, savings to the city.

Has the city looked at a strategy to educate people about their water use? People here have not had to think about how much water they use or what it’s being used for because the Yukon is water rich.

This seems like a logical first step in reducing water waste.

In other parts of the world where water is scarce people have been taught to reduce their use and not use water for such things as washing their car with the hose running but using a bucket instead, etc.

What about offering incentives for installing such things as low-flush toilets or for new construction?

I am concerned about those on limited incomes and budgets — what happens in the event that people are unable to pay, will their water be shut off?

Will income assistance rates rise to meet this increase in charges?

There are current examples of people living in big cities — such as Detroit, Michigan, —unable to pay their water bills (usually the poor and marginalized) and having to live without running water.

What guarantees can Mayor Bev Buckway give that this won’t happen in Whitehorse?

How will meters make those with money reduce their usage?

Another major concern is that installing meters can be viewed as a first step towards water privatization.

There are numerous examples from across the world (especially South American countries) where corporations have been able to easily step in and take over for the municipality once the system is in place.

Especially with agreements like NAFTA in place, we may be compromising ourselves without realizing it.

What assurance can you give that this won’t happen?

I do understand the reasoning behind the meters and agree we need to conserve, but think there may be other and better ways to get the same results.

Debbie Trudeau

Whitehorse

Grateful for kindness and life

Re rollover of a Nissan truck on the Alaska Highway near Marsh Lake, Tuesday, January 8:

I wish to say thank you, thank you, thank you, to the good Samaritans who stopped at the accident scene — you saved my life.

To the first-responders, Marsh Lake and Whitehorse ambulance crews, thank you.

To the staff at Whitehorse General Hospital who treated me — I had a firsthand look at why you have one of the best reps in the country as the most caring hospital of your size; thank you for your kindness and compassion.

And to Lana, my neighbour, who held my head while I was trapped in the vehicle and who let me know my beloved Elly Mae was OK, thank you.

And to the great spirits and God above, thank you, thank you …

A man and his dog,

Manfred Janssen and Elly Mae Clampett

Marsh Lake