Hurts the head to think about it

If somebody breaks the law and the RCMP isn’t around to see it, is it really illegal? This is the philosophical poser Health and Social…

If somebody breaks the law and the RCMP isn’t around to see it, is it really illegal?

This is the philosophical poser Health and Social Services Minister Brad Cathers put to the opposition Thursday afternoon.

He was responding to NDP MLA Steve Cardiff’s question about why there is no helmet law for ATV riders.

It came on the heels of this week’s public warning from Dr. Brendan Hanley, the Yukon’s chief medical health officer, that preventable injuries kill more Yukon men than heart disease and cancer.

Hanley wants the government to establish helmet laws.

“From June 2004 to May 2006, 99 people were treated for injuries involving ATVs,” said Cardiff.

“Of those who were definitely not wearing helmets, one died, one had a broken neck and three had scalp or facial injuries.

“Will the government look into making helmet use mandatory for ATV riders?”

Most ATV, snowmachine and other recreational vehicle drivers are riding outside areas that have police patrols, said Cathers.

“Simply making a law would not prevent someone from choosing not to wear a helmet,” he said.

“I can tell him, as he ought to be aware, there are a lot of Yukoners, particularly in rural Yukon, who, if told that they must wear a helmet, would not choose to do so.”

Cardiff didn’t buy it.

“The fact that there is no enforcement everywhere doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have a law,” he said.

“If that were the case, we wouldn’t have a lot of the laws we have. It sounds like this minister and this government continue to remain unsafe at any speed.”

New workplace regulations require employees to wear helmets while riding ATV or snowmachines on the job, said Cathers.

“The most effective strategy is exactly what is being pursued, providing people with the information on the number of injuries that can occur and reminding them that it is up to each and every one of us to take that personal responsibility to wear the appropriate safety equipment,” he added.

Quote of the Week No. 1

“The member opposite has to explain his actions; the government side certainly doesn’t have to explain its side.”

— Premier Dennis Fentie to Liberal Leader Arthur Mitchell on why Yukon Party members blocked a public inquiry into the illegal $36.5-million investment in asset-backed commercial paper. Mitchell resigned from the Public Accounts Committee earlier this year.

Government bags it

A spade is a spade is a spade:

People often criticize the amount of negative news in media, which is said to focus less on content and more on carnival.

With that in mind, we offer this tidbit, fulfilling our weekly quota of cheerful coverage.

Environment Minister Dennis Fentie announced the government is distributing cloth tote bags to discourage the use of plastic grocery bags.

After noting that the Yukon Liquor Corp doesn’t use plastic bags and actually sells the cloth bags for $3, Fentie mentioned the government will be handing out some bags.

About 1,000 bags have been ordered — some have been given to MLAs and most will be handed out at events, like the Canada Council for the Ministers of the Environment meeting and an environmental forum at Yukon College next month.

There’s no word whether more bags will be ordered for distribution to the general public, so pester your MLAs for more information.

Several people familiar with cloth-bag shopping have noted the size and quality — large and made with heavy canvas — is excellent.

Since Whitehorse is considering a plastic-bag ban, the government’s cloth bags are evidence of progressive thinking.

The opposition often suggests the government fails to take environmental protection seriously, citing its failure to deliver state-of-the-environment reports, as required by law.

But it’s the smaller habits that can grow to a complete change of lifestyle.

Sometimes a simple cloth bag can accomplish more than reams of paper from the Environmental department.

Quote of the week No. 2

“I will remind the Hon. Premier (Dennis Fentie) that words that we’re using in the legislature today are going to lead to discord. I ask all honourable members to tighten up their verbiage, please.”

— Speaker Ted Staffen issuing one of many warning to MLAs on Monday.