Legislative assembly readies for fall sitting

The Yukon Legislative Assembly will reconvene on Oct. 23, the government announced yesterday. "We're excited to go back into session in two weeks," said Premier Darrell Pasloski.

The Yukon Legislative Assembly will reconvene on Oct. 23, the government announced yesterday.

“We’re excited to go back into session in two weeks,” said Premier Darrell Pasloski in an interview yesterday.

But he wouldn’t say what pieces of legislation the government will table this fall.

“It’s too early for me to show our hand yet as to what we’re going to be tabling,” he said.

All government bills must be tabled in the first five days of the sitting.

Pasloski did say that the Yukon Party will table a motion to express support for the federal government’s commitment to contribute to a military campaign against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

The motion, if passed, will do nothing more than publicly announce the Yukon government’s support of the action.

But that’s important, said Pasloski.

“I think that whenever our troops are put in harm’s way it is really imperative for Canadians to stand together and show support for those troops and for the mission.”

Pasloski would not say if whistleblower protection legislation will be tabled.

In the spring the government said it aimed to table it this sitting.

Opposition parties said they hope to see a stronger version of the legislation than what was presented for consultation last spring.

In interviews yesterday, both NDP Leader Liz Hanson and Liberal Leader Sandy Silver called that earlier document a “watered down” version of what the select committee tasked with reviewing legislation elsewhere recommended.

For one, it would allow the investigator into a complaint to only make recommendations, rather than orders, to a government body that has been found to have punished someone for speaking out against wrongdoing.

That needs to be fixed, said Hanson.

“It’s really clear that there is a climate of fear within the public service, and that’s not healthy for any government, but it’s certainly not healthy for democracy.”

The select committee on the risks and benefits of hydraulic fracturing is due to make a report to the legislature this fall.

The committee was busy this summer visiting Yukon communities and collecting written and oral testimony from residents.

“As far as select committees are concerned, we broke every record as far as attendance and participation, so that was really, really good to see,” said Silver, one of six members on the committee.

The committee must digest the information it has received and may make recommendations to the legislative assembly.

Hanson and Silver both said they will continue to challenge the government on its antagonistic approach to First Nations.

“We’ll be highlighting how this government’s continued and perplexing confrontational attitude towards First Nation governments is doing a lot of harm to the creation of the necessary stability and economic certainty,” said Hanson.

That approach is causing more and more lawsuits and threats of lawsuits, that’s not good for business, she said.

Silver noted that the government now seems to be brushing off municipal governments in addition to First Nations.

He pointed to a meeting of the Association of Yukon Communities where the community service minister said, according to people at the meeting, that the Yukon government has a plan to spend money earmarked for affordable housing, but would not share that information with them.

Hanson said that the NDP will continue to represent Yukoners by bringing their concerns forward during question period.

“Our job is to continue to ask the tough questions, and to do it on behalf of citizens.”

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

jronson@yukon-news.com

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