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A tale of two campaign managers

For evidence of the partisan zeal of the Yukon Party government, consider the territory's treatment of two campaign managers, says the Liberals' Gary McRobb.

For evidence of the partisan zeal of the Yukon Party government, consider the territory’s treatment of two campaign managers, says the Liberals’ Gary McRobb.

Mike Travill, a political campaign manager for the Liberals, was unceremoniously sacked by the territory three years ago. He faced accusations he had padded the hours he reported working.

In May, a federal labour adjudicator concluded Travill was wrongly dismissed and ordered the territory to pay $165,000.

Then there’s Craig Tuton. A longtime campaign manager for the Yukon Party, Tuton also chairs the Yukon Hospital Corporation. In June, the News discovered Tuton and other hospital board members had overpaid themselves over a seven-month period, to the tune of more than $17,000.

But the board hasn’t volunteered to give the money back. And the government didn’t ask them to, either.

Instead, Premier Dennis Fentie wrote, in a letter to the board, that the overpayment was simply an oversight on government’s part, and that the additional funds could be kept.

“Good governance is all about treating people fairly,” McRobb told the legislature on Monday. “That cannot be said for this government, especially when it comes to campaign managers. This government rewarded its campaign manager with a pocketful of cash in a form of smoothed over, unauthorized -”

At this point Speaker Ted Staffen interrupted to scold McRobb for making statements “that are basically accusing members not in this assembly of breaking the law.”

Strangely enough, this much nobody disputes: Tuton did break the law. Intentionally or not, he and the rest of the board disobeyed a cabinet order that set their pay at a lower rate.

On Tuesday, the Liberals’ Don Inverarity made another comparison: he asked Elaine Taylor, minister responsible for the Public Service Commission, “if an employee was overpaid with Yukoners’ money, would they be expected to return that money or would they be able to keep it?”

Taylor evaded the question, saying she couldn’t comment “without knowing the specifics.”

McRobb filled in the blanks. “There are about 3,500 government employees,” he said. “If any of them are overpaid, they must pay it back. Obviously, there’s one set of rules for Yukon public servants and another set for Yukon Party campaign managers. When will the premier do the right thing and ask his campaign manager to repay this money?”

Fentie responded with a dismissive hand-wave and a big dose of sarcasm. “I’ll be stopping by the Casa Loma this evening,” he said, referring to the bar owned by Tuton, “to pick up some cold beer, as I do enjoy, from time to time, a cold beer and it’s very convenient to stop at that establishment so close to where I live.”

“I’m asking the premier to raise the bar,” McRobb shot back, “not go to the bar.”

Contact John Thompson at