I have lived in the Yukon for 45 years. I came to the Yukon with my wife to experience the magic and mystery and to live in this enchanting land of beauty. Our children and grandchildren have also chosen to live in the Yukon. My wife and I have retired in the Yukon because we know it is one of the best places on Earth to live.
What I am concerned about is what the present Yukon Party government is doing to the future financial stability of this territory. When the term of this government is finished in 2011, we will have an outstanding debt of close to $200 million including what is owed by the Crown corporations and government.
Never in the history of party politics in the Yukon has any government run up a debt of $200 million. Who is going to pay off this debt, and what government programs are going to be slashed in the future?
Since the beginning of party politics in the Yukon, we have had a number of different governments. Some of these governments actually believed in honesty and transparency to the Yukon people. Some of these past governments actually believed in democratic principles Ã one being, that people really count, and that they should be consulted from time to time about their opinions regarding the governance of our territory.
What Yukoners have experienced during the past seven-plus years, is a government that is run like an elected dictatorship. We have a premier who is the minister of all government departments, and spokesman for everything the government does. I have to say, even though my experience as a minister in the last government was short, it did not deteriorate to the level that the present Yukon Party government is at.
What we presently have is a government with a leader that is only concerned about power. The Yukon Party government consists of 10 elected MLAs with nine of these MLAs serving as robots for the premier. This Yukon Party government has already lost one of its cabinet ministers, because of the way this premier treats his colleagues and staff. The premier also serves as the minister of Finance and this means that there is no other minister to advise on public expenditures other than himself.
The present Yukon Party government is not concerned about the democratic principles of honesty and transparency. When questions are asked of this government, either in the house or of some of their appointed committees, we seldom get a straight answer. The response by the premier and his clones is to ask another question that is not even related to the original question. Often the response is to blame the person asking the question for not understanding the issues.
I believe we need a change in the way we elect our MLAs. The present Westminster system is broken and has not changed since 1867, when we became a country. We need a governing system that actually represents the people that elected them and does not give absolute power to the premier.
The power should belong to the people and they should be consulted on a yearly basis to ensure MLAs are doing what the people want, not every five years when an election is held.
During the past seven years, this Yukon Party government has racked up a debt of over $200 million without thoroughly consulting the people of the Yukon. Listed below are a number of actions that have created this debt:
1) Investing $35 million of taxpayers’ money in a paper scheme investment portfolio that was not allowed in the YTG Financial Act. Will the Yukon ever get its money back?
2) Building a framework for an extended-care building in Watson Lake and then cancelling it before it was finished. Estimated cost of this action, $2 to $5 million.
3) Sole sourcing many contracts in the Watson Lake community and other communities at will and not following the proper contract tendering process. Who knows what this cost is?
4) Attempting to sell half of Yukon Energy to ATCO for $50 million without consulting Yukoners, and then stating that this was not true. Yukon Energy is worth close to $700 million.
5) Selling two hotels in Watson Lake to the Liard First Nation using Federal Housing funds. The owners of these two hotels were Minister Archie Lang and Pat Irvin from Watson Lake. These Federal Housing funds were to be used to improve the housing inventory of the Liard First Nation and for buying hotels. Cost of this venture was $2.8 million.
6) Fentie used his influence as premier to ensure that the Peel River Assessment Report was modified to ensure that protection of this great area would also reflect mining interests. The original report was against any staking or mining in this pristine region.
7) The transfer of the operation of the hospital in Watson Lake and the proposed hospital in Dawson City to the Yukon Hospital Corporation. Costs will be in the millions and are unknown for the long term.
8) Fentie is adamant that two regional hospitals be built, one in Watson Lake and the other in Dawson City. Once again, very little consultation of Yukoners was done. The total cost of these two hospitals will be $50 million.
9) The Yukon Hospital Board has built a $17-million deluxe office/apartment block that should have cost only $5 million.
10) The payment of the Yukon Hospital Board chair and members was increased substantially during the last six months. The board chair now receives an annual payment of close to $40,000 and the board members receive $400 per meeting. YTG cabinet had an order-in-council that did not allow boards to increase their stipends.
11) A Crown corporation, Yukon Energy is building an extension to the Mayo Hydro Dam and the corporation had to borrow close to $100 million in order to complete this project. Even though Yukon Energy had recent reports investigating alternatives to the Mayo B site, none of these reports were released to the public.
12) In the near future the Yukon Hospital Corporation will be borrowing another $50 million to make renovations to the Whitehorse Hospital emergency area.
There are many more examples, too numerous to mention, that this Yukon Party government has created, that demonstrates the control and power of the premier. It would appear that Fentie’s cohorts, the elected MLAs, have no voice and do not represent the people who elected them; they represent the premier. The MLAs have given the premier absolute power and he can rule without public question. It is obvious that this Yukon Party government has not been transparent nor honest about their true intentions when they were first elected to office.
If there is a time for change, it is now. As Yukoners, we must change our electoral system so that no future leaders have absolute power and control.
We need true democracy, honesty and transparency on how our government spends our tax money.