Fentie is shunning Crown corporation board, say board members

Premier Dennis Fentie's government has pursued the privatization of Yukon Energy Corp. while spurning its board for more than a year, according to past and current directors.

Premier Dennis Fentie’s government has pursued the privatization of Yukon Energy Corp. while spurning its board for more than a year, according to past and current directors.

Board members of the Crown-owned Yukon Energy Corporation and Yukon Development Corporation haven’t heard from Fentie or Jim Kenyon, minister responsible for the Crown corporations, since early 2008.

The two corporate boards heard through the grapevine that privatization was afoot, but have been completely isolated from the government’s energy policy, said board member Paul Birckel.

“It was just the government talking about (privatization),” said Birckel. “I don’t think we’ve been involved at all.”

Monday, there was a mass resignation from the eight-member corporate boards. The chair, Willard Phelps, and directors Greg Hakonson, Paul Hunter and Martin Allen quit, citing political interference in the board’s affairs by the Fentie government.

Birckel won’t leave without approval of the Council of Yukon First Nations, which appointed him. But being shut out of cabinet and department-level decisions is a huge worry, he said.

“I think the biggest problem is no communication between the board and the government,” he said. “It really concerns me.”

The only public mention of a change in the governance structure of the two corporations was a brief statement by Fentie in the legislature.

The government is “rationalizing” the relations between the government and the corporations, he said on April 27.

The remaining board members still don’t know anything about the changes.

“As far as I know, the government hasn’t given us any direction on any kind of governance,” said Birckel. “So we’re just waiting.”

The departure of Phelps and friends is tragic, he said.

“I’m really sad,” said Birckel. “I think some of them were doing a really good job. Some of them have been there for a while, especially Willard.”

“His family has been in the electrical business for a long time and it’s his second term.”

“It was really sad to see him go. I didn’t want to see him go. I guess he got frustrated enough to leave.”

The mass resignation came 10 days after the government announced a $160-million expansion in the territory’s hydroelectric system, dubbed Mayo B.

Since Monday, Fentie hasn’t answered any questions on the resignations. He simply issued a terse three-paragraph release accepting their resignations and thanking them for their work.

By failing to consult with the two boards, Fentie is running roughshod over the corporations, say board members.

“The issue is, we could never have a meeting with the minister,” said Allen, a seven-year board member who resigned this week.

“The only meeting was when Archie Lang was minister of Yukon Energy,” said Allen.

Lang was shuffled out of the post in July 2008.

“Kenyon came out once and introduced himself, but they never attended any of our meetings,” said Allen. “Neither did Angus Robertson, and he’s supposed to be president of the Yukon Development Corporation.”

The board chair reports to the minister responsible for the Yukon Development Corporation, Jim Kenyon. And the deputy minister of the Energy, Mines and Resources Department, Angus Robertson, is president of the corporation, according to the governance structure.

“None of these guys came and gave us an, ‘Are you doing this or are you doing that?,’” said Allen.

“We asked for a letter of expectations,” he said. “We never got that either.”

There were meetings between Fentie and Yukon Energy’s president David Morrison, he said.

“David Morrison is supposed to deal with the board. And the chair of the board is supposed to deal with the government and the minister.”

“That wasn’t happening,” said Allen.

The board has been edged out of decisions for “the last year and a half,” he said.

Morrison was not in the territory on Thursday. The spokesperson for Yukon Energy did not know where he was.

The interim board chair for both Crown corporations, Pat Irvin, was in Vancouver attending a family emergency, said Janet Patterson.

Five calls were made to Fentie. None were returned before press time.

Yukon Energy has been a Crown corporation owned by the Yukon government since the mid-1980s. The Yukon Development Corporation is its mother department, and they share the same board members.

On Thursday, Fentie announced a $3-million rebate fund for energy consumers, to replace a subsidy that expires on July 1.

Calls on this issue were not returned either.

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

d
Wyatt’s World

Wyatt’s World for March 5, 2021.

City councillor Samson Hartland in Whitehorse on Dec. 3, 2018. Hartland has announced his plans to run for mayor in the Oct. 21 municipal election. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillor sets sights on mayor’s chair

Hartland declares election plans

Premier Sandy Silver speaks to media after delivering the budget in the legislature in Whitehorse on March 4. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Territorial budget predicts deficit of $12.7 million, reduced pandemic spending in 2021-2022

If recovery goes well, the territory could end up with a very small surplus.

Dawson City RCMP are reporting a break and enter on Feb. 25 after two masked men entered a residence, assaulted a man inside with a weapon and departed. (Black Press file)
Two men arrested after Dawson City home invasion

Dawson City RCMP are reporting a break and enter on Feb. 25.… Continue reading

Highways and Public Works Minister Richard Mostyn speaks to reporters at a news conference in Whitehorse on Dec. 21, 2017. New ATIPP laws are coming into effect April 1. (Chris Windeyer/Yukon News file)
New access to information laws will take effect April 1

“Our government remains committed to government openness and accountability.”

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley receives his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine from Public Health Nurse Angie Bartelen at the Yukon Convention Centre Clinic in Whitehorse on March 3. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
State of emergency extended for another 90 days

“Now we’re in a situation where we see the finish line.”

Team Yukon athletes wave flags at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games opening ceremony in Whitehorse. The 2022 event in Wood Buffalo, Alta., has been postponed indefinitely. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News file)
2022 Arctic Winter Games postponed indefinitely

Wood Buffalo, Alta., Host Society committed to rescheduling at a later date

Crews work to clear the South Klondike Highway after an avalanche earlier this week. (Submitted)
South Klondike Highway remains closed due to avalanches

Yukon Avalanche Association recommending backcountry recreators remain vigilant

RCMP Online Crime Reporting website in Whitehorse on March 5. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Whitehorse RCMP launch online crime reporting

Both a website and Whitehorse RCMP app are now available

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is preparing for a pandemic-era election this October with a number of measures proposed to address COVID-19 restrictions. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City gets set for Oct. 21 municipal election

Elections procedures bylaw comes forward

A rendering of the Normandy Manor seniors housing facility. (Photo courtesy KBC Developments)
Work on seniors housing project moves forward

Funding announced for Normandy Manor

Tom Ullyett, pictured, is the first Yukoner to receive the Louis St-Laurent Award of Excellence from the Canadian Bar Association for his work as a community builder and mentor in the territory. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Tom Ullyett wins lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Bar Association

Ullyett has worked in the Yukon’s justice ecosystem for 36 years as a public sector lawyer and mentor

The Blood Ties outreach van will now run seven nights a week, thanks to a boost in government funding. Logan Godin, coordinator, and Jesse Whelen, harm reduction counsellor, are seen here on May 12, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Blood Ties outreach van running seven nights a week with funding boost

The Yukon government is ramping up overdose response, considering safe supply plan

Most Read