Yukon’s leaders are dragging us into trouble

Yukon's leaders are dragging us into trouble Businesspeople like to think of themselves as clear thinking and practical. We'll see, because right now the local business community is sleepwalking into a mess engineered by the Yukon Party government. Premi

Businesspeople like to think of themselves as clear thinking and practical. We’ll see, because right now the local business community is sleepwalking into a mess engineered by the Yukon Party government.

Premier Darrell Pasloski, Resources Minister Brad Cathers and their bureaucratic enablers are on a collision course with ethics and legality. They are steering us towards a lawsuit that may cripple, or at least depress, the business environment.

The lawsuit they are provoking from the First Nations has the Peel plan as its starting point, but it is really about the sanctity of contracts. Because of Pasloski and Cathers’“leadership,” the Yukon risks having its business climate under a cloud, and a continued loss of public goodwill and trust in government. Just as bad, we can expect strained, if not poisoned relations between the governments that ought to co-operate in managing this territory.

Businesspeople should understand that when you break contract (such as the Umbrella Final Agreement) you get a lawsuit. In most societies contract-breakers are disreputable. When they stand as representatives of society, they make us all look bad.

Mr. Pasloski, a pharmacist, might not be educated in civics and public policy. But as a businessman, he should understand the consequences of violating contracts.

Brad Cathers’s poor understanding of statistics was on display in the legislature last December when he implied that Yukoners did not support large scale protection in the Peel watershed because only three per cent of the population participated in the commission’s consultations. This is flat-earth logic and high comedy.

What he didn’t say was that this is a very high participation rate in any planning process – and that the participants were overwhelmingly in support of protection. More to the point, he did not acknowledge – possibly because he does not understand statistical analysis – that a valid, professionally conducted survey in 2009 reported that 78 per cent of Yukoners supported massive protection in the Peel. If Cathers understands this, he is cynical; if he doesn’t, he is ignorant. In either event, he clearly does not respect public opinion.

It is alarmingly clear that the reins of government are in the hands of unskilled and cocksure amateurs. We should count on the senior public servants to provide sound advice to keep them out of trouble, but the culture of our bureaucracy does not speak truth to power. At the top levels, it is “Yes Mr. Minister! Right away, Mr. Minister!”

Pasloski and Cathers pay no attention to average Yukoners who have spoken clearly about the Peel plan. Will anyone among the small group they do listen to intervene to keep them (and us) from a needless lawsuit?

Conrad Frieslander

Whitehorse