One man, one party and one rule

summary

Lately it has been asserted by environmentalists, a commissioner of the Peel Watershed Planning Commission and the media that Premier Dennis Fentie is interfering with the planning process.

The assertion was that the premier intervened with the issuance of a 22-page draft of a submission prepared by officials from the Department of Environment and in so doing is “interfering with the Peel process.”

In my humble opinion I think a lot of Yukoners and the local media have it all wrong with this assertion.

We elect politicians to represent our interests. Every day in our territorial government, draft documents are prepared by bureaucrats on a range of issues relating to public policy, legislation, and operational aspects of government. Bureaucrats are not elected and hence do not carry the ultimate responsibility for decision making on policy development in government. Therefore we not only expect, but demand that our elected officials develop effective policy and ensure that all government actions are consistent with the policy of the political party in power.

I do not understand why many Yukoners and local media think that senior bureaucrats have the right to dictate policy. They are there to assist the elected officials in administering the desired policy and government position.

In this particular case, the growling from various parties shows a total lack of understanding of government processes and political accountability. Our premier and cabinet not only have the right to ensure that documents released to the general public, commissions or otherwise, are consistent with government policy, but they are also following the principles of democracy and public expectations of their roles.

For those disgruntled bureaucrats who somehow “leak” draft documents to the media because they are not happy with the government’s position, or that their draft papers are not accepted by the political party in power, I would suggest you have a couple of choices: 1) resign from your public servant position and come out in the private sector where you are free to voice your own opinions, or 2) recognize the politicians are ultimately responsible for policy development, public statements by government and therefore follow instructions by political leaders without initiating a public outcry campaign as that is your role and what you are being paid to do at times.

Fentie is doing his job by ensuring public position papers are consistent with government policy and direction.

Congrats, Fentie, for doing the job Yukoners asked you to do when we elected you.

And shame on commissioner Loeks for publicly criticizing a democratic process and not following the role set out for you in the Peel process.

The government in power is fully within its rights to ensure that information presented to the Peel Watershed Planning Commission is consistent with its direction.

As the Yukon government’s representative, you of all people should be cognizant of that fact.

And to the media É well, hopefully one day you will learn that bureaucrats are public servants and the politicians are ultimately responsible for policy.

So you still have the freedom to criticize the position of the party in power on their policy direction, but not criticize their ability to ensure (or “intervene”) that public releases are consistent with their desired policy.
 
 

Kevin Brewer

Whitehorse