CanNor gets a new captain

The Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency has a new president. Patrick Borbey took over the embattled agency this week.

The Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency has a new president.

Patrick Borbey took over the embattled agency this week.

CanNor has been embroiled in controversy for the last two months after an internal audit revealed the agency was a financial mess.

The audit found that CanNor had violated almost every rule of sound financial management and had broken all but one of 13 different financial policy directives it examined.

Borbey freely admits that the agency has had its fair share of problems, but remains confident that these can be fixed.

“There was no fraud, there was no misappropriations,” he told the News. “A lot of mistakes were made, but many of them were associated with the fact that this is a startup organization with a fairly lean capacity and some high turnover.”

CanNor has been through five different financial officers since it was formed a little more than two years ago.

The audit said that high turnover rate may have contributed to the lack of financial controls.

It made a total of 19 recommendations, many of which, Borbey said, have already been realized.

“By the end of 2012, we will have fully implemented all of the recommendations and will have in place the systems, the structures and the frameworks to ensure that those problems don’t reoccur,” he said. “That doesn’t mean that we won’t have mistakes from time to time, people are human.

“But when it does happen we will have the controls in place to correct those mistakes and not allow it to turn into the kind of systemic problems that were found in the audit.”

Borbey comes prepared with a host of personal and professional experience.

Most recently he worked as an assistant deputy minister with Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada.

After almost 30 years as a civil servant, he’s has seen his fair share of difficult situations, but taking over an agency that’s been under such intense scrutiny made him a bit apprehensive.

However, any fear he had was overpowered by the excitement of getting a chance to work on northern issues again.

“There are tremendous opportunities to be associated with this agency,” said Borbey. “The last time I checked, we’ve got about 30 major projects, most of them mining.

“Now, all of them aren’t going to come to fruition, but even if half of those do, it has the potential of really transforming the north and bringing tremendous prosperity.”

Having grown up in a small mining town in northern Ontario, Borbey knows how precarious a resource-based economy can be.

“When you live in a boom-and-bust kind of local economy, you really realize the importance of sustainable development,” he said. “The mining sector can bring real wealth, but also you’re vulnerable to whatever the economic situation may be anywhere in the world.”

He’s been through both the good times and the bad.

“I was in Elliot Lake when the mines all shut down,” he said. “Overnight, the town went down by two-thirds. My parents stuck it out and I stayed, grew up and got my education there.”

He worked in both mines and sawmills as a young man, an experience he credits with motivating him to focus on his education.

Building back up both the credibility of CanNor and the morale of its staff is going to be a challenge, said Borbey. But it’s a challenge he feels ready to tackle.

“I’m going to have to do a lot of relationship building,” he said. “But that’s another area where I bring some good background.

“I know a lot of players in the North, I’ve worked with them before in previous capacities and I can pick up the phone and talk to them. In fact I’ve already done a lot of that.”

Despite its recent problems, Borbey feels confident about CanNor’s future, especially with federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq overseeing the agency.

“We have a minister that has a pretty strong vision,” he said. “She knows the North; she’s from the North and that’s also a huge opportunity for us to be able to have that voice in cabinet that can really help continue to make the North a priority in this government.”

Contact Josh Kerr at

joshk@yukon-news.com

Just Posted

XX
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for May 12, 2021.… Continue reading

Health Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brendan Hanley announced youth vaccination clinics planned for this summer. (Alistair Maitland/Yukon government file)
Vaccination campaign planned for Yukon youth age 12 and up

The Pfizer vaccine was approved for younger people on May 5.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley announced two new cases of COVID-19 on May 11. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Two new cases of COVID-19 reported, one in the Yukon and one Outside

One person is self-isolating, the other will remain Outside until non-infectious

Courtesy/Yukon Protective Services Yukon Wildland Fire Management crews doing a prescribed burn at the Carcross Cut-Off in May 2020.
Prescribed burns planned near Whitehorse neighbourhoods to improve wildfire resistance

Manual fuel removal and the replacement of conifers with aspens is also ongoing.

Chloe Tatsumi dismounts the balance beam to cap her routine during the Yukon Championships at the Polarettes Gymnastics Club on May 1. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Gymnasts vie in 2021 Yukon Championships

In a year without competition because of COVID-19, the Polarettes Gymnastics Club hosted its Yukon Championships.

Haley Ritchie/Yukon News file
File photo of the legislative assembly. The previous spring sitting began on March 4 but was interrupted due to the election.
Throne speech kicks off short spring legislature sitting

The government will now need to pass the budget.

The deceased man, found in Lake LaBerge in 2016, had on three layers of clothing, Dakato work boots, and had a sheathed knife on his belt. Photo courtesy Yukon RCMP
RCMP, Coroner’s Office seek public assistance in identifying a deceased man

The Yukon RCMP Historical Case Unit and the Yukon Coroner’s Office are looking for public help to identify a man who was found dead in Lake LaBerge in May 2016.

Yukon Zinc’s Wolverine minesite has created a mess left to taxpayers to clean up, Lewis Rifkind argues. This file shot shows the mine in 2009. (John Thompson/Yukon News file)
Editorial: The cost of the Wolverine minesite

Lewis Rifkind Special to the News The price of a decent wolverine… Continue reading

Letters to the editor.
Today’s mailbox: border opening and Yukon Party texts

Dear Premier Sandy Silver and Dr Hanley, Once again I’m disheartened and… Continue reading

Fire chief Jason Everett (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City launches emergency alert system

The city is calling on residents and visitors to register for Whitehorse Alert

Two young orienteers reach their first checkpoint near Shipyards Park during a Yukon Orienteering Association sprint race May 5. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Orienteers were back in action for the season’s first race

The Yukon Orienteering Association began its 2021 season with a sprint race beginning at Shipyards.

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)
City news, briefly

A look at issues discussed by Whitehorse city council at its May 3 meeting and the upcoming 20-minute makeover.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland met with MP Larry Bagnell and representatives from the Tourism Industry Association via Zoom on May 4. (Facebook)
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland met with MP Larry Bagnell and representatives from the Tourism Industry Association via Zoom on May 4. (Facebook)
Deputy Prime Minister talks tourism in “virtual visit” to the Yukon

Tourism operators discussed the budget with Freeland

Most Read