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Corporate donations and fundraising events scrutinized in legislature

Premier says he encourages attendees of Liberal fundraisers to register with the lobbyist registry.
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Public Service Commission Minister John Streicker speaks to media at the legislature on Oct. 25. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)

The Liberal government faced questions in the legislature this week over fundraising connections to mining companies.

Both the Yukon Party and the New Democrats called attention to Vancouver fundraisers hosted for the Liberal Party, questioning if corporate money was influencing government decisions.

On Nov. 26, Yukon Party MLA Scott Kent stood up in the House and tabled an email showing that the founder and CEO of Broden Mining was promoting a Vancouver fundraiser in 2017 on behalf of the Liberal party.

The email notes that Premier Sandy Silver and Ranj Pillai would be attending the “intimate and fun gathering” at a private box in the Rogers Arena and that the $500 fundraiser tickets can be purchased from the Yukon Liberal Party.

The Yukon Liberals eventually raised $20,000 at the 2018 event, and donors that contributed to the cost of the box included White Gold Corp., ECEE Money Ltd., and all three members of the management team of B.C.-based Oxygen Capital Corp.

Kent noted that earlier this year the government announced that the Ross River First Nation would be partnering with Broden Mining on the “basic terms and framework for the sale of mining claims and leases on the Vangorda plateau portion of the Faro mine site and neighbouring lands to the east of the plateau.”

On the floor of the house, John Streicker responded that the government has worked with the Ross River Dena Council and the Tse Zul Development Corporation on the project. He said the project will help “convert an environmental liability into an opportunity.”

“I don’t think these things are in any way related. I believe that there is a role for Energy, Mines and Resources to make sure that, when mining companies come into the territory, they do so appropriately, and that is what we will do with this mining company,” said Streicker.

He said when it comes to the Faro Mine and Vangorda area, the federal government has the responsibility on the file and the territorial government is involved merely to enforce territorial regulations.

Yukon Party Leader Currie Dixon said he is not suggesting wrongdoing by the Liberals, but he wanted the government to explain the link.

“Because that there wasn’t a competitive process [for disposition of the Faro lands], members of the mining community have raised it,” he said. “I think that the government needs to clear the air about some of this because a reasonable question can be asked if the CEO of the company that that got this opportunity was a prominent Liberal fundraiser.”

On Nov. 30 NDP leader Kate White also rose to question the Liberals on their fundraising methods, calling attention to an upcoming Dec. 18 fundraiser set to take place in Vancouver, much like the 2018 Rogers Arena event. This time Silver, Streicker, Pillai and Jeanie McLean will be attending a hockey game with those who purchase the $500 tickets.

White asked Silver if donors meeting with him and his cabinet would be registering in the government’s newly created lobbyist registry.

Silver responded that “we absolutely encourage any business organization that has facetime with ministers to register as lobbyists.”

He also reassured White that those involved in the fundraiser will follow COVID-19 protocols and will be paying their own way, separate from government business.

MLA Emily Tredger stood later in the question period to ask whether or not the government plans to follow the recommendations in the Youth Panel on Climate Change – including removing corporate donations.

“The conflict is obvious when mining is given special treatment with intensity-based targets instead of overall reductions like every other industry. It is hard to believe that the thousands of dollars in donations that the Liberal Party is getting from mining companies is not influencing their decisions on climate change,” said Tredger.

Contact Haley Ritchie at haley.ritchie@yukon-news.com