Animal protection legislation reviewed

Following a 2,500-signature petition calling for improved animal protection, the Yukon Party government is examining how other jurisdictions shield…

Following a 2,500-signature petition calling for improved animal protection, the Yukon Party government is examining how other jurisdictions shield animals from abuse in a bid to improve Yukon laws.

“We agree with Yukoners who have signed this petition in that the territory needs an animal protection act that clearly defines the appropriate care and attention for all domestic animals and sets out the appropriate penalties for those who abuse domestic animals,” said Community Services Minister Glenn Hart in the legislature Tuesday.

“The care of domestic animals will be considered in the context of developing legislation that works,” he said.

Animal protection is a hot-button issue in the territory following several disturbing headlines.

In April, Jim Foesier shot and killed 74 dogs on his property near Dawson City after being told they would be confiscated, due to a lack of shelter.

When Dawson Humane Society officials arrived to confiscate the dogs, they found Foesier sitting atop a mound of some 60 dog-carcasses.

And during the record-setting cold snap in November, approximately 30 abandoned cats were discovered wandering near Beaver Creek looking for shelter.

In addition to the petition — tabled by acting NDP leader Steve Cardiff — newbie Liberal MLA Don Inverarity introduced a motion in late November noting the Yukon Party government promised, but failed to revise animal protection laws in its first mandate. (TQ)

POWER BILLS

Stabilization fund future questioned

Electricity consumers could see prices skyrocket by up to one-third if the rate-stabilization fund, scheduled to expire at the end of March, isn’t replaced or renewed, says Liberal MLA Gary McRobb.

The fund is a $3.5-million yearly rebate Yukon Energy Corporation credits to electricity consumers on their bill. It was created to soften the blow to electrical consumers after the closure of the Faro mine forced rates up.

It reduces the average Yukoner’s electricity bill as much as one-third and the public should have a say about its future, said McRobb.

“There is a lot of concern about this government deciding the future of this program without respecting Yukoners’ right to be heard,” he said during question period on Tuesday.

“This is a matter that should be on the table for the public and energy stakeholders to review and comment on.

“At the very least, this minister needs to let them know what process he will use to determine the future of this program.”

McRobb challenged Energy, Mines and Resources Minister Archie Lang to commit to holding public meetings about the fund.

But the government has “until March” to answer McRobb’s concerns, said Lang.

“We will use the appropriate form of communication and work on this subject,” he said. “We are committed. We were elected to do it, and we will do just that.”

The government and the energy corporation will discuss the issue in the coming months, added Premier Dennis Fentie following question period Tuesday.

“True to form, Mr. McRobb is trying to create an issue that isn’t,” he said.

The Liberals asked to question YEC officials in the legislature during this fall’s sitting.

But that request was barred by the Yukon Party, said McRobb.

“The government made a decision to stop them from appearing,” he said.

The corporation directors will appear before the legislature next fall, said Lang. (TQ)

 ENFORCEMENT

Liquor inspection reports to be posted online

Following a practice in British Columbia, this week Yukon Liquor Corporation Minister Jim Kenyon announced the government would start posting liquor act enforcement documents online.

Warning letters and suspension letters issued to territorial bars will be available on the liquor corporation’s website either before the end of 2006, or shortly after, Kenyon said in the legislature Tuesday.

“The Yukon Liquor Corporation has researched the suggestion that warning and suspension letters should be more accessible to the public and, on that point, I agree,” he said.

The announcement comes after a months-long probe by the News into the territorial liquor act and after a series of questions about lax liquor act enforcement in the house by NDP MLA Steve Cardiff.

“Well, recent news reports reveal that government records, obtained through the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, showed several liquor infractions committed by a local hotel,” said Cardiff.

“Why has the minister allowed the Yukon Liquor Corporation inspection and enforcement service to atrophy, despite what he says?

“Is he waiting for another vigilante group to take up the slack and draw attention to the liquor act violations?” Cardiff asked Kenyon.

In September, the News requested documents detailing act infractions and enforcement in two local bars – the Capital Hotel and the Kopper King.

The News could only obtain the documents through a formal access-to-information request, although they are considered public under Yukon government’s access to information act.

British Columbia already posts its liquor enforcement documents online.

It has records dating back to 2001. (LC)

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