Letter to the Editor

Government priorities are wonky It is sad and disappointing to hear news there is no low-cost housing funding for those who, in many cases, are…

Government

priorities are wonky

It is sad and disappointing to hear news there is no low-cost housing funding for those who, in many cases, are marginalized through parental neglect, as is the case with FAS.

It seems inconceivable to me that government would ignore these people, housing them on the street while, at the same time, opening the coffers for some nonsensical climate change subdepartment at Yukon College.

On the one hand, you have something where results can be seen and felt.

On the other, you have what amounts to flushing taxpayer’s money down the toilet.

There is absolutely nothing this government can do about climate change.

However, there is something you can do for desperate people. If they are not already, soon the effects of climate change will be irreversible, so you would be better off investing money in the health-care system, which is sure to be overflowing.

China is now the largest carbon dioxide producer on the planet followed by the oil-frenzied Americans. China’s growth is unstoppable as seemingly is our addiction to fossil fuels.

Unfortunately, for this planet and every living creature on it, oil shows no signs of running out.

It’s somewhat hypocritical to see a politician at the Tim Hortons drive-thru sporting a brand new black Dodge three-quarter ton gas pig.

So when does the save ANWAR sticker go on the bumper?

Another local issue of direct benefit is also being ignored and that’s the Mount Lorne recycling center.

Why have they not had an increase in funding for 10 years?

Again, these are real people making a real difference.

Could it be that it’s because it is in an NDP riding?

Seems to me they are saving the government money as well as performing a great public service through their tireless efforts.

Seems to be, a good idea is a good idea regardless of who brings it forward.

Helping those in dire straits is a good idea.

Helping people to reuse in this waste-driven world is a good idea.

Kevin Sinclair

Whitehorse

Petition power

remains with people

Six weeks ago I informed Robert Fendrick, Whitehorse’s director of administrative services, that I was starting a petition for referendum.

Its purpose is to amend the Official Community Plan to create McLean Lake Park to protect the land within a boundary of 500 metres from the lake’s high-water mark for the benefit of present and future residents.

The municipal act gives citizens the right to initiate such a petition.

The legislation requires the municipality, upon receipt of a valid petition, to draft a bylaw that complies with the purpose of the petition, and submit that bylaw to a binding referendum.

The process is simple, and I followed it to the letter.

Since then it has become clear that Fendrick, either on his own initiative or at the direction of mayor and council, immediately embarked upon a campaign to stop the petition.

He told me he was required to submit the question for a legal review before he could sign the notice of petition, implying more than once that the notice was a permit, which he had the authority to veto.

This was not true.

There is no such requirement in the municipal act; his only duty is to acknowledge receipt of a notice of petition.

He told me I was not permitted to organize volunteers, advertise the petition or in any way get ready for circulating the petition until he had approved the question.

This was not true.

There is a time limit for the collection of signatures after the notice of petition has been filed, but it is perfectly legal for petitioners to organize just as it is legal for prospective council candidates to organize their campaign before nominations open.

He then sent a lengthy press release to the media, saying that because he hadn’t signed the notice of petition, any signatures would be invalid.

It is not the director of administrative services’ duty to validate the notice of petition, but he does have a duty to acknowledge its receipt.

He obtained a legal opinion on April 2 and within hours had sent another press release, and given interviews saying that, as far as the city is concerned, there is no petition.

I believe this must be a typo.

What he said, surely, was the city wishes there were no petition. Because that’s as far as their authority goes.

By now it should be clear what Fendrick, on behalf of mayor and council, is doing.

He’s attempting to frustrate the public votes process provided for in the municipal act, with an aggressive campaign against the petition; against the referendum legislation in the municipal act; and against the citizens of Whitehorse whose vision for the community is at odds with prevailing opinions at city hall.

It’s unethical. It’s unseemly.

It’s an unpleasant spectacle.

It may well be illegal.

But all of this theatre doesn’t affect the petition.

Once the required signatures are gathered and submitted, city council will have two options: they can comply with the municipal act, and the city’s own bylaws, and put the Official Community Plan amendment called for in the petition to a binding referendum.

Or they can challenge the validity of the petition question in Supreme Court.

Fendrick can huff and puff all he likes, but it doesn’t change the law, or give him or anyone at city hall the authority they presume to have: to stop the petition in its tracks.

It’s not complicated.

People who make laws need to respect them just like the rest of us.

There is nothing special about the corporation of Whitehorse that allows it to pick and choose which laws it wants to comply with.

The petition continues. Learn more at www.mcleanlake.org.

Marianne Darragh

Whitehorse

Answers hard to come by

I respectfully submit the attached document in hopes that a long-needed, vigorous discussion takes place in the Yukon legislature regarding the welfare of dogs bred for, and used as, ‘sled dogs’ in the Yukon.

There are a few individuals, including myself, who have asked in a public forum (via a great many letters to the editors of local Whitehorse newspapers within the last year or so, and online advocacy was undertaken on the internet), questions to elected officials who support the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race and the local sled dog industry.

Questions were also asked of Yukon Quest officials.

No answers have ever been received by either party, yet the promotion of the Quest (using much public money) and sled dog tourism operations increases annually.

There is an urgent need for some honesty from government and dog-mushing industry (including the Quest) about some of the cruelty and exploitation that negatively impacts sled dogs in the Yukon.

The two big questions are:

1. Is it right for public money and resources (territorial, municipal and First Nations) to be used to support and promote the Yukon Quest and sled dog tourism industry when there is no government protection for the animals that are used in the Quest and as sled dog tour ‘beasts of burden?’

2. Should the Yukon Quest race, a race that has been known to kill and injure dogs over the last 25 years, a race that apparently has a dark association with dog and puppy culling, be allowed to be promoted in Yukon classrooms with the blessing of education authorities including the Yukon Teachers’ Association and the Yukon minister of Education?

 Thank you in advance for giving serious thought and undertaking public debate about this important issue, on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves.

Terry Cumming, sled dog advocate

Whitehorse