Yukon Premier Dennis Fentie attempted to fly to Dawson City Friday morning with a briefcase full of financial salvation.
The Yukon government has finally prepared a bailout package for Dawson.
More than two years have passed since the government fired Dawson’s town council, installed a trustee and ordered a forensic audit, which eventually revealed gross misspending of public funds and more than $4 million in debt — well beyond the $1-million debt the town is allowed under the Yukon Municipal Act.
A bailout has been widely anticipated for more than a year.
But Fentie was foiled by the weather.
The weather in Dawson was too poor for a plane to land.
Details would be announced Friday afternoon said cabinet communications spokesman Peter Carr.
“The desired course of events here is to let the people of Dawson know, who are most directly affected what the details of the financial recovery plan are in person.”
Still, the announcement comes with plenty of time for potential candidates to review the package and prepare for a municipal election, which must be held by June 15.
A question of propaganda
Oxford’s dictionary defines ‘propaganda’ as “an organized program of publicity, selected information, etc., used to propagate a doctrine, practice, etc. or the information, doctrine etc. propagated in this way.”
When Yukon Liberal Party leader Arthur Mitchell used the term Thursday to describe a brochure about mining activity that the Yukon government distributed to 13,000 homes in the territory, Speaker Ted Staffen shut him down.
“The term ‘propaganda’ is not appropriate for this legislative assembly,” said Staffen.
However, the glossy four-page brochure from Energy, Mines and Resources fits with Oxford’s definition.
It’s a pro-business document, which is neither good nor bad. It describes the Yukon’s “mineral wealth” and highlights nine resource development companies that are currently operating in the Yukon.
Mitchell’s stretch was in classifying the brochure as “Yukon Party pre-election propaganda.
“This was clearly designed as an information piece for potential investors who live outside the Yukon,” he said.
“The Yukon Liberal Party has a long history of supporting the mining industry too.
“What we don’t support, because we are wasting taxpayers’ money, is mailing this piece out to every Yukoner.
“If the Yukon Party government wants to highlight its support for mining, the Yukon Party should pay for it, not the Yukon taxpayers.”
Each company helped pay for the brochure, said Resources minister Archie Lang.
“It was sponsored by the corporations that are on the bottom of it,” said Lang.
“They would have put some money into the brochure, because it talks about them.”
Indeed, the brochure includes blurbs about high-profile companies like Sherwood Copper Corp. and Yukon Zinc Corp., both of which are poised to move their mining projects into production in the near future.
“I am certainly well aware … that other political parties have done things over the various seasons to promote economic development,” said Economic Development minister Jim Kenyon.
“I still have to scratch my head over why the previous Liberal government, the shortest-lived majority government in the history of the Commonwealth, saw that the best way to promote economic development was to abolish, to collapse, to close, to curb, to cut down … to basically cancel and close the department of Economic Development.”
Kenyon wouldn’t say how much the brochure cost to produce and distribute.
And Lang wouldn’t say how the highlighted companies were chosen.
The Yukon’s new slogan, Larger than Life, conjures images of pornography, says Klondike MLA Peter Jenkins.
“I have spoken with a considerable number of individuals in the industry in Canada and in the United States, and the US is Yukon’s principal market,” Jenkins said during Question Period Thursday.
One US businessman asked: “‘What are you trying to market now? A porno site?’” said Jenkins.
That one earned another Staffen slap-down.
“It is the mark of a true government to show leadership and admit that a mistake has been made,” said Jenkins.
“Brands are only good for five years. Change is good. These are but two of the clichés used by ad agencies in the multi-million-dollar industry worldwide in which the Yukon is but a bit player.”
Tourism minister Elaine Taylor was visibly offended by the porn comment.
“The Larger than Life brand that was proposed and accepted by the senior marketing committee was passed by a number of individuals through focus tests: 1,700 individuals across the country, across North America, and in our key international markets were surveyed,” said Taylor.
“Of those 1,700 individuals, compared to the two people that (Jenkins) surveyed, more than 84 per cent of those surveyed were in strong, overwhelming support.
“Who are you going to believe? (Jenkins) or the senior marketing committee who represents industry across the Yukon?”
Tourism paid $200,000 to develop the Larger than Life brand.
Smoke’em if you got’em
Mount Lorne MLA Steve Cardiff, a self-described “tobacco addict,” wants the government to protect public places from cigarette smoke.
“The impact of tobacco addiction on Canada’s economy in 2002 was a staggering $17 billion,” Cardiff said Thursday.
“That was the cost to the economy in loss of production and to the health-care system.
“More than 37,000 Canadians died from tobacco use that year.
“Illness attributable to tobacco accounted for over two million days of hospital acute care.
“Even a tobacco addict like me recognizes the need to ban smoking in public places.”
What’s the government supposed to do, asked Health minister Brad Cathers.
“Most members of society are guilty, to some extent, of not exercising or not eating as well as we should — including me, along with other members in this assembly,” said Cathers.
“Do we legislate that? Do we tell someone what they have to eat, what they have to do?”
It’s not like legislation always works, he said.
“Whitehorse’s smoking legislation is not going so well,” said Cathers.
“We are directing our limited resources to education rather than enforcement, and I firmly believe that educating individuals, assisting them in voluntarily quitting smoking, is far more effective than simply telling people they can’t do it, and then trying to stop them.”