The flipside of Fentie
Premier Dennis Fentie keeps telling us he is very proud of what he has accomplished in the past four years.
He takes every opportunity to boast about what his government has accomplished under his leadership.
He quite readily takes credit for all the progress that has taken place in the Yukon.
I am hopeful the majority of Yukon residents pay little heed to such boastful election rhetoric.
Most people are well aware Fentie has not been directly responsible for the Yukon’s perceived progress.
There is, however, a much more measurable side to a leader’s record.
Does Fentie take care of the things for which his position makes him primarily, or even exclusively, responsible?
Does he show integrity in the discharge of his functions?
The truthful and proven answer is “no.”
An example of this was raised in the legislature on several occasions last November.
Clear evidence was introduced regarding the irrational and unethical manner a government employee was being treated by the Public Service Commission.
To be specific, the employee was going to lose his job because he had started a court case against the government.
Fentie claimed he checked into it, and there was no policy that would allow this to happen.
He concluded everything was OK — simply “an individual personnel matter,” and, as such, outside ministerial jurisdiction.
No mention of the fact that the termination was directly attributed to the employee’s lawsuit.
Fentie completely ignored his responsibility.
The matter surfaced again during the spring session of the legislature.
The employee had then lost his job, and more evidence of Public Service Commission abuse came to light in a sworn affidavit filed before the court.
Once again, Fentie simply claimed he had no need to intervene.
Is this showing responsible leadership?
Is Fentie fulfilling the duties placed on him by the Public Service Act?
Most certainly not, and he should stop the pretense. It’s an insult to all of us. Shame on him for essentially ignoring such abuse of a basic right.
The Yukon Party ethical standards are seriously flawed if their leader cannot even understand what is required of him.
Let’s talk about what matters
I attended the environment forum at the Yukon Inn on Monday night.
Listening attentively, I heard what the three candidates proposed for their respective platforms.
These are all good men, but at the end of the event I felt somewhat empty and frustrated.
I had wanted to feel inspired, impassioned and even hopeful. I had wanted to hear words holding a clear vision of ecological integrity interwoven with a responsible economy.
I wanted to hear about the potential for education, formal and informal, to inspire our thinking and inform wise decisions.
And mostly I wanted to hear about forming respectful relationships, about ethical actions, about individuals and groups taking personal responsibility.
As I was about to leave, a brief chat with a friend began to bring forward what we both really wanted.
We spoke of co-operation, collaboration and the courage to step out of “the box.”
To address the myriad of present-day challenges we need leaders to stoke the embers of creativity that are innately within us, we agreed.
These are times calling for us to step away from the norms, the usual, the ordinary.
We need to use our common sense in uncommon ways.
And my friend and I agreed on the need to do it together.
The Fireside Room at the inn was peopled representative sample of the Yukon: capable, creative, some cantankerous and most co-operative.
The sense of community my partner and I have experienced in this territory is deeper than experienced in all my travels.
We live in such a land of diversity and wealth and we need to govern it, and ourselves, with reverence.
After that conversation, I left the room feeling more passion, promise and hope.
Walking past the hotel’s registration desk on my way out, a photograph caught my attention. It was of Ruby Van Bibber.
The words accompanying this photo told of an event in honour of her life that same day. I never knew her and yet I stood wondering what her passing meant to others.
My friend joined me again and we spoke about Van Bibber.
Hearing our words, a large man with a security hat rose from behind the front desk.
He had just come from the gathering honouring her. He knew her well; yes he was related.
He told us how he had never seen so many people at such a gathering. People came from all over.
He told us how her life had touched so many, and her message … He hesitated, so I asked this big burly security man what her message had been.
He thought for a moment, then quietly said, “co-operation; she believed in bringing people together.” And then he added: “Her message was about love.”
We talked for a little longer then my friend and I left the inn. We hugged in the parking lot and said our goodbyes. And, I felt hopeful again.
The reality of Yukon poverty
Social assistance rates have not been raised by the Yukon government in over 15 years this affects poor Yukoners in all communities.
It particularly affects First Nation Yukoners in rural communities.
The rates authorized by Indian Affairs have to match the rates issued by YTG. So in our community Watson Lake even though we administer social assistance, we are stuck having to provide the same inadequate amounts.
What does this mean?
We have First Nation members who are forced to make the choice between food and fuel for their houses during winter.
We have First Nation houses that are left to freeze up because people do not have any money for fuel.
This profound poverty also exists in the non-FN community.
For example the maximum amount a family can get for fuel and electricity for a month is $650.
Obviously when it costs upwards of $950 per month for heating fuel and approx $150 per month for electricity you can do the math and see that the poor are being victimized.
In Whitehorse alone over the period 1995-2005 energy prices have increased by 72 per cent over 10 years.
The increases out here in the communities, have been even greater.
The Yukon Party government’s reluctance to increase social assistance rates is causing further suffering and poverty among Yukon’s vulnerable families and children.
Other governments in days gone by have also not addressed this problem, which, of course, gets worse with each year.
The economy is booming in Whitehorse because of the massive amounts of government spending and government salaries that are there, but out here in the rural communities we have elders, and single mothers that are being victimized.
Even the Watson Lake Chamber of Commerce recognizes the disparity in the economic boom.
A question at the election forum this week gave the following question to the people running for election in Watson Lake.
“Recently a long-established Watson Lake business was denied consideration for financing by a branch bank in Whitehorse. The reason given: ‘Watson Lake is a depressed area.’ What ideas do you have to spread the Whitehorse economic boom to other areas of the territory?”
The problem is that most of the people, who run for politics, and those doing the reporting on the issues, have simply no idea or experience with the profound poverty that exists in certain sections of our Yukon society.
In some of our rural communities, the unemployment rate exceeds 30 per cent. We do not have big box stores and an abundance of available jobs.
Our reality is much, much different.
Chief Liard McMillan
Liard First Nation
YP vs. small business
Contrary to the recent media blitz, with such statements as Premier Dennis Fentie’s assertion: “Small business issues in the territory rank high on his government’s priority list,” politicians under the Yukon Party do not manage tenders and fail to take care to award contracts correctly.
When a problem is brought to their attention, they stick their head in the sand.
Fact: February 13, 2004, the award letter for a three-year court reporting contract (2004-to-2007), valued at close to $1 million, was made out correctly and signed by Minister of Justice Elaine Taylor.
Three weeks later, March 10, 2004, with no authorization in writing (as required under the contract), the actual contract was made out solely to the Outside company and signed by the same person, Taylor, effectively eliminating the local component that was evaluated under the two-envelope system.
Result: An expensive, two-year legal nightmare and future legal action against YTG.
When the documents in question were brought to the attention of four Yukon Party ministers at their community barbecue, held August 17, the comment was made, “This is something which would happen in the banana republic,” and they promised to look into the matter immediately.
They conveniently waited until after the election was called and then advised me they had no mandate to address the matter.
Before you cast your vote on Tuesday, ask yourself what the Yukon Party will do for you as a business owner!
View the relevant documents on website: HYPERLINK "http://megareporting.computerisms.ca/" http://megareporting.computerisms.ca/
Also, the politicians were aware that the bid-challenge process was of no value to business, yet they kept this worthless procedure in place and provided no alternative.
Money for the people
I was discussing politics with a friend of mine the other day when he quoted something so profoundly true I had to ponder it.
“Money is the root of all … social programs.”
It struck me as amazing, that since many stodgy, old conservatives would happily equate social programs to evil, but I, a Canadian proud of our wide range of educational, health, retirement, and security programs (to name a few), still whole-heartedly agree with the quote.
Allow me to explain:
It seems to me that our society as a whole is leaning further and further left. Some like that, some don’t, the point is moot; what matters is we are shuffling that way.
The net result is that the defining line between political parties begins to blur. Every party wants to offer more robust social programs and tax incentives and environmental protection.
The big question is who can deliver?
Consider again, “Money is the root of all social programs.”
At the risk of sounding overly simplistic, it strikes me that the party who can provide funding for any of these initiatives is the party who can deliver.
“But any government in power would have the same amount of funding.”
On the surface that argument appears to make sense, but it is important to determine where governments receive their funding from: taxes.
The only way to receive more tax income (and still promote tax incentives) is by having more taxpayers. Further, the best taxpayers are companies. Companies pay a higher rate than individuals, and, depending on the industry, can earn considerably more than individuals to boot.
Consider Sherwood Copper, the company that is scheduled to bring the Minto copper project into production next spring.
Sherwood believes it may be able to generate nearly $90 million per year in cash flow, a lot of which would go to paying their employees, who pay taxes; to paying contracted companies, who pay taxes; to their bottom line, which they pay tax upon, and finally to the shareholders who own Sherwood (many Yukoners do), who pay taxes on their gains or dividends.
This one mine could mean millions in tax revenue to the territorial government.
The incumbent party, the Yukon Party, has spent the last few years working with companies like Sherwood Copper to help them navigate the legislation our territory has in place.
The result has been that companies exploring and proposing to mine in our territory have followed the rules diligently, but they have been properly welcomed by our government.
In striking this healthy balance, the Yukon Party is ensuring that our beautiful territory is not being raped and pillaged and still we as a population — including everyone from employees to employers, from the affluent to those who need even a little bit of help from our social programs, from tight-fisted capitalists to generous philanthropists — take best advantage of the opportunity of global trends that are just beginning to lean in our favour.
In my opinion, the Yukon Party is the party most able to bring money into the Yukon’s coffers. And remember: “Money is the root of all social programs.”
Keith Jacobsen, CIM
Keep it straight
I’m sure that most of the Yukon electorate has received, in the mail, a large, glossy flyer published by the Keep It Clean, Keep It Green, Keep It Wild Coalition.
At first glance it would seem that the Liberal Party answered all of the questions asked, but some vaguely, that the New Democrat Party has answered all of the questions, and that the Yukon Party did not answer at all.
Have you read the fine print?
If you examine the stapled insert the bottom explains that the Liberals asked “not to judge a no answer … as a negative response.”
It also explains that the NDP did not answer the questions, but returned “narrative comments” from which their responses were drawn.
This leaves the Yukon Party, no mention of them on the insert. However if you read the fine print on the last page of the main flyer you learn that the YP responded as well; with a letter, a list of conservation initiatives and accomplishments, and copies of “some old press releases downloaded from their website.”
If you take notice, the press releases on the YP website covered the complete Yukon Party government mandate, and some new ones have been released since the day the writ was dropped.
This information does not seem so old to me. As well these press releases contain the YP’s own “narrative comments.”
I ask you all two questions. Why is it that the NDP’s narrative comments could be turned into responses, while the YP is made to look like they did not respond?
If the YP, like the Liberals, had asked to not have “no answer” judged as a “negative response” would the YP have been treated favorably as well?
This is not an unbiased fact sheet sent around to help inform voters; it is clearly partisan campaign propaganda. I urge you all to remember that on October 10.