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Hidden Valley dominates first question period of fall sitting

A number of motions were introduced on the first day back for MLAs
Yukon Party leader Currie Dixon addresses media following a heated question period on Oct. 8. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)

Elected MLAs were back in the House on Oct. 7 for the Fall Sitting.

After a number of bills were introduced by both the government and opposition parties, both the NDP and Yukon Party came down hard on the government during a Question Period dominated by queries over the handling of the Hidden Valley situation.

Yukon Party leader Currie Dixon introduced an urgent motion aimed at forcing the Liberal government to release all documents related to the sexual abuse case at Hidden Valley Elementary School. The motion was defeated in a vote.

Dixon pushed again during question period, asking the Minister to disclose when she first learned of the abuse.

Minister Jeanie McLean appeared to try and dodge the question, and asked Dixon to “tread lightly” around the issue due to it concerning “delicate matters.”

“There are still matters before the court Mr. Speaker,” she said, before admitting that she did not become aware of the lawsuit between a parent and the government until local media outlets reported on it in July 2021.

MLA Tracy-Anne McPhee, who was education minister during the incident, stood up and called for the question to be dismissed, due to an ongoing legal dispute. But MLA Brad Cathers argued Dixon was being “very careful” in asking questions that avoided the lawsuit.

“And the minister knows it,” he said.

McPhee’s concern was dismissed and questions continued, first from NDP leader Kate White and then followed up on by MLAs Brad Cathers and Scott Kent.

“I keep the families at the forefront and I’ll continue to do that,” said McLean, noting that an independent review is underway.

Following question period, Dixon was incredulous that McLean claimed to not be aware of the situation until July 2021.

House business introduced

Three bills were introduced by the government for first reading: a supplementary budget for 2021-22, a change to the Family Property and Support Act and a change to the Territorial Lands (Yukon) Act that would introduce new rules around resource roads.

The amendment to the Family Property and Support Act will remove the existing limit that only allows parents in former common-law relationships to apply for support three months after a relationship ends. There is no time limit for married spouses to apply for spousal support.

The changes to resource road regulations will expand the rules around the construction, use, closure and decommissioning of resource roads.

Both the NDP and the Yukon Party brought a flood of their own motions forward on Oct. 7.

The three New Democratic MLAs brought around 20 motions in total, almost all calling for action on recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The party noted that there are 32 calls to action from the report that are under the government’s jurisdiction. So far only 10 have seen action taken towards completion.

On Thursday Kate White, Annie Blake and Emily Tredger called on the government to do more. Among the various calls to action, they highlighted the need to improve healthcare for Indigenous Yukoners, include Indigenous curriculum as a part of school lessons, recognize Indigenous athletes and remove administrative costs for residential school survivors who are changing their government ID.

Annie Blake also brought forward a motion to have the drug Trikafta covered for Yukoners living with cystic fibrosis.

Motions brought forward by the Yukon Party MLAs highlighted various issues in the territory.

Cathers introduced a motion to reinstate the Physician Recruitment and Retention Officer in order to recruit and retain more doctors in the territory. MLA Scott Kent highlighted a similar shortage of teachers in the territory, and called on the government to address the issue.

MLA Stacey Hassard also proposed an industry working group to review the federal government’s proposed draft Clean Fuel Standards, which will be subject to consultation between Canada and the territory.

Contact Haley Ritchie at