Currently there are only three liquor inspectors patrolling bars, restaurants and licensed events throughout the entire territory.
As of October 1st, there will be just one, according to multiple sources who have come forward to The News over the past week.
This is just another example of the Yukon Party’s lackadaisical approach to enforcing the liquor act in the territory, say sources.
Overtaxed liquor inspectors are conducting routine premise checks and reporting all of the infractions they find.
But those reports are left to gather dust on the desks of higher-ups within the corporation, according to several sources, all of whom talked on condition of anonymity.
Little enforcement action is taken and the problem has been getting worse.
In 2001 and 2002, there were a few problem bars, but that number has increased under the Yukon Party’s watch, say several of the sources.
Yukon Party cohorts Archie Lang, Peter Jenkins and longtime party organizer and political campaign chairman Craig Tuton have a stake in territorial bars.
Statistics from the Yukon Liquor Corporation’s annual reports indicate the number of licence suspensions issued to bars in the territory dwindled from 11 in 2001/02 to one in 2004/05.
These allegations have persisted since 2004, when the Yukon New Democratic Party began its own investigation.
So, two weeks ago, The News relaunched a probe into charges the government has not been enforcing the Yukon Liquor Act.
Ignoring liquor act infractions, like overcrowding, overserving and serving minors, contributes to a chaotic atmosphere and permits problems like drug use, trafficking and violence to fester in Yukon bars.
The News asked the Yukon Liquor Corporation for copies of all licensed premise checks — the report inspectors draft after checking bars for infractions, like overserving, serving minors and overcrowding.
The paper also asked for copies of all warning letters and suspensions issued to two local establishments.
So far, the requests have been denied.
Last week, government officials announced restrictions on the release of public information since the election has been called.
So, last week The News launched eight access to information requests for documents chronicling how city bars have been monitored.
In the past week, after the first article ran, several more sources have approached The News about the issue.
Some to say the information was bang-on correct, and that liquor infractions were not being punished.
Others highlighted sections of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act that clearly show these documents should be in the public domain.
Section 19(3) of the Yukon Liquor Act states, “A public body must not refuse to disclose … a report prepared in the course of routine inspections by an agency that is authorized to enforce compliance with an act.”
To deny access to the Yukon Liquor Corporation’s inspection reports is a direct violation of the government’s own laws.
Those reports should be handed over without any need for an official request, said one source.
Confronted with that information, one government official said The News’ information requests were under review by lawyers.
“We’re waiting on some legal decisions on what we can release,” said Yukon Liquor Corp. spokesperson Doug Caldwell this week.
In other jurisdictions, like British Columbia, each enforcement decision on a liquor act infraction is available with just a click of the mouse.
The province’s website, http://www.pssg.gov.bc.ca/lclb/decisions, lists all of the enforcement action the province has taken against local bars and restaurants for contravening its Liquor Control and Licensing act since 2001.
The Yukon’s own access to information website states: “We believe in open government, and your right to know about most of the things we do. When you need information, contact the appropriate government department or agency to make a request.”
And, next week, the Yukon government has dubbed September 25 through October 1 as Right to Know Week.
It is meant to “acknowledge the right of citizens to have access to information and to raise awareness of this right,” according to a government proclamation.