Hopefully, the recent announcements from government regarding a resumption of cabin burning and a new tender process are only designed as distractions from embarrassing past political issues, and will be withdrawn shortly after election day.
Community Services Minister Archie Lang will not be running this time, but no doubt will be doing everything possible to ensure his Yukon Party is re-elected.
He is likely trusting that electors will be too preoccupied with other events such as sports, recreation or many other matters to take much interest in past political issues.
Perhaps most will just vote along party lines, or for candidates they feel are popular people.
It should be remembered that Soapy Smith, Conrad Black and many others of their kind were once thought to be great guys as well.
In keeping with the old adage “out of sight, out of mind” and under a shroud of secrecy, Lang has successfully helped shape Yukon government affairs for the past nine years and he certainly doesn’t want voters reminded of any past government scandals.
With an election on the horizon, this is probably the main reason he decided on an early retirement for his former premier Dennis Fentie, and to keep him out of sight until the election is over.
In this regard, you may recall that, despite repeated denials by Fentie in 2009, he was able to conceal negotiations to privatize our Yukon Energy Corporation with Alberta-based ATCO from members of the Yukon Energy Corporation board and the general public for more than seven months.
And you may also recall, it was just four years ago that cabinet approved a $2.83-million notional seniors’ housing grant to the Liard First Nation specifically designated to purchase three of his own Watson Lake hotels.
He was able to keep this deal a secret, so it was only following a complaint by a local First Nation elder in need of housing that the truth about this questionable transaction was finally made public two years later.
As to political distractions, the release of a new YTG contract tendering process on August 12th allowing contractors to submit bids by means of the internet has, to date, failed to arouse any commercial or public interest.
It will just make it easier for YTG administrators to manipulate the tendering process should they wish to extend patronage to government supporters. You only have to review the Whistle Bend and former Watson Lake hospital contracts to realize what has been taking place. Whatever became of those good old days when tenders were received in the form of sealed bids, and opened only in the presence of the contractors or the general public?
If Lang seriously intends to destroy more wilderness cabins he should first clean up the remnants and broken glass left behind at last year’s burning sites.
And his insistence that all trapline cabins must be covered by leases and subject to annual fees and inspections was obviously made without prior consultation with the industry.
This policy is both unreasonable and unaffordable for most trappers, particularly when fur prices are low.
Give them a break and leave those old cabins alone, at least for the time being. Their very existence could very well mean the difference between life and death for trappers, bush pilots or other wilderness travellers. In extreme conditions they might have to depend on whatever may be left of them for warmth or shelter in ways not understood by government policy-makers or their officials.
Donald E. Taylor