Lang withholds damning report

Energy, Mines and Resources Minister Archie Lang sat on a six-month-old report that criticizes how Yukon land is sold.

Energy, Mines and Resources Minister Archie Lang sat on a six-month-old report that criticizes how Yukon land is sold.

The 55-page document cites a litany of policy and communication problems within the two departments — Community Services and Energy, Mines and Resources — which share responsibility for land dispositions.

It makes 20 long- and short-term recommendations to improve things.

The document follows a draft report that was leaked to the NDP caucus in November. It cited many of the same issues.

But, despite several requests for the final report from opposition members, Lang did not release it.

“When I heard there was a copy of (the final report), and that it was dated January 2006, it just blew me away,” said NDP MLA and land critic Steve Cardiff, who asked for the final report on May 11.

In the legislature, Lang promised to release it as soon as it was ready.

“Hopefully the final draft will be brought forward within the next month, and then we can look at it,” Lang told Cardiff at the time.

This week, a copy of the final report, dated January 2006, was leaked to the NDP caucus.

It bore a joint agreement, signed by deputy ministers from Community Services and Energy, Mines and Resources on March 30, that described how responsibility for land disposition between the two departments would be shared.

But Lang produced neither the final report nor the joint agreement when asked for them in mid-May, more than a month after the deal was inked.

“The date on the report was January 2006, so why are we just getting it now?” said Cardiff.

Community Services commissioned the independent review from Marsh Lake-based Spin Drift Business Enterprises in September 2005.

Spin Drift interviewed 28 bureaucrats from both departments using a standardized set of questions.

Its objective — to clear up the grey cloud surrounding land disposition in the territory.

“The application process for land in the Yukon is complex, lengthy and often confusing,” it reads.

“There may be up to 15 to 20 distinct steps and a similar number for subdivision approval.”

The final report states there is no consistent policy for land disposition, which means each department interprets the rules differently and leaves clients with inconsistent information.

And it cites a “turf war” between the two departments, where Energy, Mines and Resources is a “bully” trying to take over Community Service’s land-disposition role.

Communication between the two departments is lacking, it adds.

“There appear to be no formal, or even informal, inter- or intra-departmental lines that would keep everyone involved in the picture.”

And even the programs and regulations for mapping and planning don’t match and have caused “huge issue within the departments.”

So why didn’t Lang bring the final report forward in the legislature?

“That’s a good question,” said Cardiff.

“I think it hits at the lack of openness and accountability in this government,” said Liberal MLA Gary McRobb.

“It’s not the first time minister Lang has misled the house,” he added citing Yukon Energy Corporation’s plan and information McRobb requested on the Carmacks-Stewart Crossing transmission line.

Yukon Party officials refused to comment on the report.