Cannor was warned about Dana Naye

The Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency could have avoided a recent controversy if it had followed a report that recommended it stop using Dana Naye Ventures to hand out grants.

The Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency could have avoided a recent controversy if it had followed a report that recommended it stop using Dana Naye Ventures to hand out grants.

When it was created in August 2009, Cannor was supposed to be a fresh slate on which to clean up Ottawa’s spotty record doling out economic development grants.

Gone were the days of unfinished projects, unfair grant-giving and seasonal workers, said federal officials.

But to do that, officials needed to know what awaited Cannor in the Yukon’s economic landscape. So they commissioned a report.

In December 2009, that report, Study on the Business Services Environment in the Yukon Territory, landed on the desks of bureaucrats in the Elijah Smith Building.

Its recommendations weren’t very different from the pitch given a few months earlier when Cannor was created.

Cannor should replace several organizations that provide business services in Yukon, it said, recommending a one-stop shop for lending, accounting and business advice.

But Cannor didn’t follow the advice.

The report blames the Business Development Bank of Canada and Dana Naye Ventures for stagnant development in the Yukon.

Despite this, Cannor retained Dana Naye’s service.

Since 1997, Dana Naye has been used as a clearing house for business grants from the Aboriginal Business Development Program.

That program was transferred to Cannor from Indian and Northern Affairs in 2009, but it remained under the control of Dana Naye.

The report recommended changes.

It doesn’t mince words on the quality of business advice at Dana Naye.

They have a troubling record with local businesses and have a reputation for favoritism, it says.

Their business plans lack sophistication and their staff is inexperienced, it says.

Cannor will likely take over the roles of Dana Naye, according to data gathered from “knowledgeable locals” in the report.

“The influence of Dana Naye Ventures as a business advisory and financial service could be diminished,” it says.

Last month, Cannor’s reluctance to challenge Dana Naye led to a potential conflict of interest involving taxpayers’ money.

Dana Naye gave $213,000 from the business program to a company it partly owns, Kilrich Construction.

Cannor made the final decision to approve the grant, but neither party is answering questions on how the conflict of interest happened.

“I have no further comment,” said Wanda Thompson, the director of communication for the agency, in a phone call last week.

Cannor won’t say how Dana Naye recommended Kilrich Construction receive the $213,000. The money helped expand the company’s truss factory.

The agency won’t say if it has any rules about conflicts of interest.

Cannor’s website only has one sentence on the aboriginal development program.

Dana Naye’s website mentions the grants go to businesses that need help writing business plans, establishing a company and accounting services.

It’s not clear how many other grants have been doled out.

Dana Naye won’t answer questions surrounding the Kilrich grant on the advice of lawyers, said Elaine Chambers, its general manager.

No formal market research was done to get the grant, said Rick Boyd, a manager with Kilrich.

“There’s no real research, but the writing is on the wall,” said Boyd.

The grant could undermine a plan by a private company interested in building a truss plant here.

“We’ve been putting together some research toward putting up a truss plant in Whitehorse; we’ve had discussions in our company here,” said Ravi Kumar, vice-president of Edmonton-based Igloo Construction.

“We’ve had to rethink our plans,” he said.

“But we are still actively considering it.”

The business program is the only Cannor program administered by Dana Naye.

But Dana Naye also administers the Canada Business Loan Fund, an Indian and Northern Affairs Department program.

What’s stranger about Cannor’s forgiving attitude toward Dana Naye is the court case that erupted over the report.

In May, Dana Naye sued Ottawa and the authors of the report over its comments.

The report is defamatory, says Dana Naye, a claim that both respondents deny.

As long as the case is open, Cannor won’t say if the report’s recommendations have been implemented.

“As the matter is still before the courts we are unable to comment further at this time,” said Erin Macpherson, a Cannor spokesperson, in an e-mail Thursday.

The case is heading for a one-day hearing on November 25.

Contact James Munson at

jamesm@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Team Togo member Katie Moen sits in a sled behind a snowmobile for the ride from the airport to Chief Zzeh Gittlit School. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Coming together: How Old Crow became one of the first communities in the world to be fully vaccinated

Team Togo and Team Balto assembled with a mission to not waste a single dose of vaccine

Main Street in Whitehorse on May 4. If council moves forward with bylaw changes, eating and drinking establishments could set up pop-up patios in on-street parking spaces. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Patios may be popping up in Whitehorse this summer

City considers program for downtown restaurants and bars

The Yukon Coroner's Service has confirmed the death of a skateboarder found injured on Hamilton Boulevard on May 2. Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News
Whitehorse man dies in skateboarding accident

Coroner urges the use of helmets, protective gear, while skateboarding.

The new Yukon Liberal caucus poses for a photo during the swearing-in ceremony held on May 3. (Yukon Government/Submitted)
Liberal cabinet sworn in at legislature before house resumes on May 11

Newly elected MLA Jeremy Harper has been nominated as speaker.

The Yukon Wildlife Preserve’s baby bison, born April 22, mingles with the herd on April 29. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Yukon Wildlife Preserves welcomes two bison calves

A bison calf was the first 2021 baby born at the Yukon Wildlife Preserve

A map provided by the Yukon government shows the location of unpermitted logging leading to a $2,500 fine. (Courtesy/Yukon government)
Man fined $2,500 for felling trees near Beaver Creek

The incident was investigated by natural resource officers and brought to court.

The site of the Old Crow solar project photographed on Feb. 20. The Vuntut Gwitchin solar project was planned for completion last summer, but delays related to the COVID-19 pandemic pushed it back. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Old Crow is switching to solar

The first phase of the community’s solar array is already generating power.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
One new case of COVID-19 in the Yukon

Case number 82 is the territory’s only active case

Flood and fire risk and potential were discussed April 29. Yukoners were told to be prepared in the event of either a flood or a fire. Submitted Photo/B.C. Wildfire Service
Yukoners told to be prepared for floods and wildland fire season

Floods and fire personelle spoke to the current risks of both weather events in the coming months.

From left to right, Pascale Marceau and Eva Capozzola departed for Kluane National Park on April 12. The duo is the first all-woman expedition to summit Mt. Lucania. (Michael Schmidt/Icefield Discovery)
First all-woman team summits Mt. Lucania

“You have gifted us with a magical journey that we will forever treasure.”

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

Whitehorse goings-on for the week of April 26

The Yukon Department of Education in Whitehorse on Dec. 22, 2020. The department has announced new dates for the 2021/2022 school year. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
Yukon school dates set for 2021/22

The schedule shows classes starting on Aug. 23, 2021 for all Whitehorse schools and in some communities.

Most Read