Recently the territorial budget came out. I went to the legislature to hear the premier’s budget speech. I found several of the things he stated to be misleading to all of us as Yukoners, all of them to do with our economy. Here they are.
First, the premier stated that his government has (again) not raised taxes? For those of us with homes outside of the City of Whitehorse, we know full well our property taxes have gone up.
The four communities around the Southern Lakes make up the biggest population outside of municipalities (by far). Since Premier Pasloski took his job in 2011 property taxes have been going up between two per cent to four per cent per year. This outstrips both inflation and the City of Whitehorse. Since the Yukon Party took office in 2002, property taxes in Southern Lakes have gone up more than 50 per cent.
How then does the premier then declare that he has not raised taxes?
Second thing I found misleading was when the premier stated in the budget speech that we have no debt… While it may be technically true that the government is not in debt, the hospital and energy corporations have borrowed significantly. According to government documents, right now there is $189 million in debt. Ultimately this is a debt we owe as Yukoners, and it is a shell game to say otherwise in a budget speech.
The third thing I found disingenuous in the budget speech was with regards to our made in the Yukon strategy to address climate change. He stated that our strategy was on track to reduce emissions? I will acknowledge that the government’s climate change strategy has several good initiatives; however, there has been no analysis to measure the overall effectiveness on reducing emissions.
In fact the two times Yukon greenhouse gas emissions have dropped since 1990, the reductions have coincided with the closing of mines. It is spin to frame our recession as a success in reducing emissions.
(Full disclosure: following the budget speech I decided to take a leave from my position at the Yukon Research Centre as the climate change science advisor, so that I could speak more frankly about government policies.)
I think we all recognize that this budget speech is being presented in the context of an upcoming election. Still, it is important for all elected officials and candidates seeking office, and especially for our finance minister and premier, to be more forthright with information for Yukoners.
In a democracy, it is not the political parties that matter, it is the people.