As the spring sitting of the legislative assembly comes to a close, important concerns about the Yukon Party government’s approach to dealing with non-government organizations have emerged.
The premier’s budget address contained an unprecedented – for Yukon – attack on well-respected Yukon environmental NGOs that have served our community for decades.
In the past week the Health and Social Services minister indicated he was planning on phasing out the funding for NGOs’ advocacy work.
When one adds the dismissive treatment of the Whole Child Society volunteer board of directors by the minister of education, shock waves begin to ripple through the hundreds of small to large non-government organizations that work hard on behalf of Yukon citizens.
It seems that the Yukon Party has taken another page from their Harper Conservative friends in Ottawa and in doing so give us another glimpse into their vision of control, which dovetails rather nicely with their moves to increase government secrecy, control the message and muzzle those who dare question them.
The connection between this approach to NGOs and the recent attempt at muzzling Yukon Education employees through the “making public statement” policy is clear. The Yukon Party will silence the voices that do not echo the Yukon Party tune.
What the Yukon Party forgets is that he who calls the tune pays the piper – and in a democracy, citizens call the tune. Democracy is not well served
by a government that attempts to shut down public debate, muzzle participation by citizens in non-government organizations or, more sadly, dismiss and diminish the hard work of those is our community who, through Yukon’s vibrant NGO community, benefit Yukoners in many ways.
Whether it’s through helping those in need, advocating against discrimination or holding the government to account for sound environmental stewardship, non-governmental organizations provide invaluable services to Yukoners. The Yukon Party government might want to show a little respect.
Leader, Yukon NDP Official Opposition