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Letters: Our silent premier

Over a month ago, the community of Silver City sent a letter to Premier Ranj Pillai regarding his government’s plans to remove our much needed waste transfer station.

Over a month ago, the community of Silver City sent a letter to Premier Ranj Pillai regarding his government’s plans to remove our much needed waste transfer station.

The letter was the product of a well attended community meeting and carried the signatures of 130 concerned residents of Silver City and the surrounding area. We believe that it was a respectful, carefully reasoned appeal, supplemented with extensive documentation, including many pages of testimony given to the Yukon Enviornmental Socio-economic Assesssment Board on this issue. It represented a fair amount of community effort, and was sent via registered mail with a return address.

In addressing our premier directly, our only hope was that he would give it due consideration and provide something of an explanatory response, from a leadership perspective. All attempts at communicating with “the dumpster file minister” (Yukon News, Oct. 18) had failed abysmally. The Community Services minister, while not engaging with us directly, has instead chosen to issue a stream of evasive and factually erroneous statements to the media and in the legislative assembly, effectively ridiculing our concerns and exhibiting a distinctly elastic relationship with the truth.

Not one word has been heard or received in response, either directly to our community, in legislative discussions or in the media. To put it mildly, we are a bit disappointed. We had an expectation that such a community effort would merit at least a perfunctory acknowledgement but even that was not forthcoming.

We realize that the premier is a busy man. He has recently travelled on official missions to India, and to Japan. We commend his efforts at international diplomacy, but are the concerns of the population of the rural Yukon really not worthy of even a moment’s notice from the premier?

It should be mentioned that, not considering this a partisan problem, we wrote to all three of the Yukon’s political parties. The leaders of two of those parties responded immediately and meaningfully. An indifferent silence is all we have received from the party in power. Does forming a government absolve the party in charge from all accountability and insulate that party from the need to respond to the concerns of citizens?

This current government, like no other before it, seems to be ignoring and abandoning the Yukon’s rural regions, leaving residents feeling demoralized and discouraged. There was a time, not so long ago, when the so-called “colourful five per cent”, i.e. those living in the unincorporated Yukon, off grid, or nearly so, were sort of respected and considered to form an integral part of life in the territory. Increasingly, it seems we are not wanted or worthy of much consideration. Now, the government, instead of supporting the growth of rural communities, steadily makes life more difficult for those living beyond the municipalities, in the name of “modernization”. The Community Services minister behaves like the proverbial “fox in charge of a henhouse”, slashing our minimal government services without prior consultation and then repeats demonstrable untruths in justifying the cuts.

We lose our transfer stations, forcing many residents to drive thousands of extra kilometres per year. Our rural health centers are now often closed, due to lack of staffing. The government is now in the process of closing rest areas along stretches of rural highway, which will result in an unholy mess. Where was the public consultation on that? Recently the sale of paper fishing licenses in rural areas was discontinued; now available only via the internet with credit cards, something unworkable for some residents, many of whom do not own or use computers, smart phones or credit cards. In this case, the government is either seriously out of touch or just doesn’t care.

New government regulations have made it impossible for rural communities to have notary public service. Where once it was provided in every community, often free of charge, we now must travel hundreds of kilometres and spend hundreds of dollars, merely to have a form stamped. All examples of what our governmnet terms “modernization”.

In Beaver Creek, the post office has been closed down. Beaver Creek residents now need to travel over 370 kilometers round trip, on one of the worst stretches of road in North America to Destruction Bay, in order to pick up parcels. We’re aware that YG isn’t in charge of that, but a little responsible advocacy on the part of YG and our MP might be in order.

Etc., Etc. ……

As the capital city continues it’s relentless growth, what we are experiencing may be merely the habitual and unthinking tyranny of the many over the few, but that doesn’t make it right.

And adding insult to injury is this: that when we organize and reach out to the government leadership for answers, as we have recently done, the silence we get in response is positively deafening.

Suzanne Tremblay, David Cartier, Sr.