Tuesday, Renee Alford finally got the chance to buttonhole politicians about her son’s dismissal from government.
She wanted to know how Premier Dennis Fentie could justify refusing employment to people pursuing a legal grievance against the government.
She’s written several letters and called government ministers and MLAs, and she’s received no credible explanation.
So Alford confronted Fentie before a dozen Whitehorse West constituents gathered in the library at Ecole Emilie Tremblay.
Alford’s son, Dominic Alford, was denied employment within the Yukon government because he was seeking a judicial review of a decision that allowed the government to fire him from a previous job.
“This is a question that is before the court, that cannot be confused with an individual personnel matter,” Renee Alford told Fentie and Elaine Taylor, the Yukon Party MLA for Whitehorse West and minister responsible for the Public Service Commission.
“You cannot keep evading questions or letting things accumulate.”
Alford is not one of Taylor’s constituents, but was accompanied by a relative who is.
There are glaring contradictions between government policy and action, said Alford, who was armed with quotes from the legislative assembly and a sworn affidavit from a government human resources director.
The government would never support “a hiring policy that would diminish the rights of individuals to access justice,” said Fentie in November.
“It has been confirmed that there is no policy linking hiring to pursuing a lawsuit against the government,” said Taylor in the legislature.
The statements contradict an affidavit, sworn in March by human resources director Carolyn MacDonald.
Dominic Alford “could not expect to sue his employer and then be considered for future job offers,” it said.
“If there is no policy, how can it guide the Public Service Commission?” demanded Renee Alford.
“There is a poisonous atmosphere that is pervading the government.
“I’ve been seeing this growing for a long time, and it is vital for you to pay attention to it.
“This is what is so scary, and this is what needs investigation.”
“I stand by what I said: There is no such policy in government,” said Fentie.
If Alford wanted to discuss the alleged contradiction, they’d have to discuss her son’s entire file, Fentie warned.
That would involve discussing the government’s 2003 computer-misuse investigation, the Yukon Employee’s Union, an adjudicator’s decision and a judge’s ruling, he said.
And when Alford persisted, Fentie brought out the big guns.
“We’re dealing with something that should not have happened in the first place, and that is the downloading of pornography on government computers,” he told Alford.
“That kind of behaviour is unacceptable. It is a difference between right and wrong.”
“There was another thing that was wrong — the government’s total abuse of power” in the handling of the computer-misuse investigation, Alford shot back.
The debate dominated Taylor’s meeting, until someone stepped in with a question about the Yukon’s Larger Than Life slogan.
“It’s been 25 minutes,” he said.
“I’m frustrated, but not too surprised,” said Alford afterwards.
“That’s been the government’s approach all along.”