Chair of electoral reform commission resigns

The independent commission on electoral reform is down a member following the resignation of commission chair Jessica Lott Thompson.

“At this time, given that the independent commission remains without finalized terms of reference required to begin its mandate, I am hopeful that my resignation will be minimally disruptive so that this important work can continue without delay,” she said in a resignation letter sent to Premier Sandy Silver on Aug. 29.

Sunny Patch, cabinet spokesperson, referred any questions to Lott Thompson.

Lott Thompson declined to comment.

Silver doesn’t say what led to Lott Thompson’s resignation in a news release on Sept. 30.

The premier’s statement says the work of the commission is on hiatus until discussions occur with opposition parties.

“Our government is committed to engaging on this issue and we look forward to moving ahead with this important work. When a new timeline is determined we will share that information publicly.”

The Yukon government named the three commission members on July 15.

Bev Buckway, the former executive director of the Association of Yukon Communities and former mayor of Whitehorse, and Jean-Sebastien Blais, president of the Commission Scolaire Francophone du Yukon and a policy analyst with the Yukon Housing Corporation continue to be part of it.

When the commission was struck, there was a timeline of six months to submit a final report. That, it appears, will be pushed back. By how much is unclear.

Commissioners are to review Yukon’s electoral system so that it “captures the intentions of voters as well as possible,” according to the draft terms of reference. It’s also tasked with looking into ways to improve how politicians and their respective parties operate. How Yukoners participate during elections and how to improve that is another topic.

Opposition parties have criticized the process of setting up the commission for months. They aren’t happy with the Liberals’ approach, saying they were cut out from deliberations altogether or not involved to the degree they ought to have been.

Creating a non-partisan commission on electoral reform was an election promise by the Liberals. Silver has consistently said it will be non-partisan both on the floor of the legislative assembly and to reporters.

Contact Julien Gignac at julien.gignac@yukon-news.com

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