Fraser’s looming report raises questions about Stecyk’s dismissal

Last week’s sacking of Highways and Public Works deputy minister John Stecyk came just three weeks before the release of an audit by federal…

Last week’s sacking of Highways and Public Works deputy minister John Stecyk came just three weeks before the release of an audit by federal auditor general Sheila Fraser.

That’s provoked speculation about the reasons for his ouster.

Fraser will personally release her Highways audit on February 2.

Now Stecyk won’t be on hand at a public hearing in the legislature expected after Fraser tables her report.

“I think the issue here is whether or not we’re going to be able to talk to him about it,” said Porter Creek South MLA Don Inverarity, who sits on the Standing Committee on Public Accounts.

Janet Mann, Stecyk’s replacement, probably won’t be able to answer questions about the report, which was compiled under Stecyk’s watch, said Inverarity.

“She (Mann) will be the one who will be in the hearing. But whether she will be able to answer questions related to the time period of the audit, which is the previous year, will be interesting.

“What we don’t want to do is get into a position where we’re asking the (new) deputy minister questions and she’s saying things like, ‘Well, that was before my time.’”

The public accounts committee has, to his knowledge, never subpoenaed a previous employee and appears reluctant to do so, said Inverarity.

Sections of the audit have already been shown to the Yukon government by Fraser’s office, he said, but the opposition parties have to wait until it is released to the public.

Inverarity has asked if Stecyk’s dismissal is connected with the audit. He has not received a response.

“While you would like to say, ‘Well, it’s a coincidence,’ I’m not a great believer in those,” said Inverarity. “It seems convenient. But I don’t know why he was let go. We’re not being told any reason.”

Fraser’s last two audits of Yukon government departments were damning.

In her examination of the Energy Solutions Centre, released in February 2005, Fraser found managers at the department showed “disregard” for good management practices.

Her audit of the Yukon Energy Corporation’s handling of the Mayo-Dawson transmission line upgrade, released the same day, found the company did a poor job of planning and implementing the project.

Originally slated to cost $27 million, the link ended up costing more than $36 million.

No reason has been given for Stecyk’s firing.

“The deputy ministers serve at pleasure, and Mr. Stecyk’s appointment was revoked,” said Patricia Daws, Public Service Commissioner, on Friday.

“There won’t be (any explaination),” said Daws. “It was an at-pleasure appointment and we won’t be saying anything further than that.”

Highways Minister Archie Lang was contacted, but declined a request for an interview.

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