When it comes to Gary McRobb, everything has changed. And nothing has.
McRobb works out of the same office he had a year ago — the former New Democrat space he used before he was ejected from the party and joined the Liberals.
And he reclines in the same chair in the legislature that he’s used for the past four years.
He’d hoped to become a Liberal cabinet minister on the government benches.
But the election returned McRobb to the opposition bleachers.
And he’s slowly starting to accept that.
“Yeah, it would have been a lot better to serve on the government side, given what I’ve learned over the years,” said McRobb on Monday.
“I fully accept the will of the voters and have adjusted to the return of my role of holding the Yukon Party accountable,” said the Kluane MLA, who won the riding with 317 votes.
“This close to the election, of course, this is a low point in the cycle. This could very well be my last term.
“But I can see several positives as well.”
Those highpoints include working with an inexperienced but energetic Liberal caucus, as well as a new, non-partisan vibe running through the legislature, he said.
That “favourable change” in the tenor of the goings-on has resulted in agreement on the standing committee on rules, elections and privileges recreated, he said.
McRobb has long championed the rebuilding of the committee.
But for three years, the parties could not agree on how to do it.
As soon as the house reconvened, McRobb proposed the group be created.
“And to the credit of the government, it agreed,” he said. “It could lead to significant change.”
Still, McRobb’s disappointment at missing a cabinet post — he served as a backbencher in Piers McDonald’s NDP government from 1996-2000 — is evident in his slumping body language.
To push his way through the low, McRobb is just working harder, he said.
“I’m not motivated by my own motivations and feelings,” said McRobb. “I’m not even sure what those might be at this point.
“You tend to put your own self on to the backburner. I’m going to think about it at the appropriate time.
“I don’t anticipate doing anything drastic at this time.”
Much ado about nothing
It’s been a long time since the Yukon legislature passed any … legislation.
Don’t expect new bills this fall, either.
There is nothing on the radar beyond two supplementary budgets and some boilerplate changes to the Yukon Tax Act that reflect federal revisions.
Fall sittings are when governments introduce new bills; spring sittings are typically reserved for budget debates.
But last fall saw little legislation. And the spring saw a budget and a single bill — the Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods Act, said Liberal leader Arthur Mitchell.
The coming spring will be spent debating the Yukon Party’s first budget since winning a second mandate.
As a result, new legislation could be almost a year away.
Mitchell is tired of the government’s plodding pace.
“We’re way past due on the Children’s Act, the Workers Compensation Act, on coming forward with legislation for the protection of animals,” he said. “We’re way past due on addressing social assistance rates.
“It’s time to actually do the work.”
Fentie and his crew were distracted by the election, but could have instructed the Yukon bureaucracy to stay at work on legislation, said Mitchell.
But that doesn’t appear to have happened, he said.
“They either haven’t provided it or the direction is that they don’t want to see a Workers’ Compensation Act, a change to the Access to Information and Privacy Act, changes to animal protection legislation, the Children’s Act,” he said.
“Basically, the approach became about a year ago, ‘Get everything into the area of a review, a consultation, a study, and push it beyond the election,’” said Mitchell.
“There’s no more point in hiding anymore. They’ve got their mandate.”
Mitchell is pushing to see social assistance rate changes appear in the next budget.
But Fentie isn’t onside with budgets being used to address “any and all matters,” he said.
“It’s not an issue of in the budget, out of the budget,” said Fentie.
“It’s an issue of dealing with the overall content of what you must create — and if it’s going to be SA rate changes, we’ve got to look at the full context of that.”
The spring will be see a budget tabled, and will only see new government legislation if it’s ready, he said.
Don’t keep your fingers crossed.
“Right now, the work that is going on in government … is focused on the budget itself,” said Fentie. (TQ)