Liberals accuse Leef of abandoning FASD bill

Yukon's Liberals are accusing Yukon MP Ryan Leef of letting an important bill die without a fight. Leef recently agreed to withdraw his private member’s bill from Parliament.

Yukon’s Liberals are accusing Yukon MP Ryan Leef of letting an important bill die without a fight.

Leef recently agreed to withdraw his private member’s bill from Parliament, which would have amended the criminal code of Canada to recognize fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. The MP contends the bill stood slim odds of becoming law, and that it’s a victory that the issue will be considered by parliamentary committee, with a report due in four months.

That’s not how Klondike MLA Sandy Silver sees it. “Our MP introduced a really good piece of legislation and they’re trying to make us swallow that this was the only way to keep it alive,” Silver said.

“I think the Tories are the only ones who are buying this story. This killed the bill.”

Leef maintains that pushing the bill along, only to see it die on the order table, would have been a merely symbolic victory. But Silver said that needn’t have been the only other outcome.

“Basically the feds decided they didn’t support our MP’s bill and asked him to pull it. He basically scrapped his own bill.

“The logic doesn’t make any sense.”

Yesterday, Leef said it’s not true that he was just following orders from his own party.

“(Silver) has been noticeably vacant on the topic up until he sees a moment to criticize,” he said in an email.

“I tabled the bill in the House of Commons for first reading in March and clearly at the time I had full expectation that the bill would receive support and be able to move through the entire parliamentary process by spring of 2015. There are many factors that can impact a private member’s bill.

“I made a decision in consultation with the invested stakeholders and my government to realize a new approach that would achieve equal, albeit slightly different, focus to FASD.”

During second reading of the bill on Nov. 20, Robert Goguen, parliamentary secretary to the minister of justice, raised some doubts about the bill.

“For example, some people will ask why there is a need to address only FASD and not any other mental disability or mental disorder,” the Conservative MP said.

“Is FASD the only disability that has an impact on an individual’s degree of responsibility for the purposes of the criminal law?”

He then moved to withdraw the bill and refer it to committee.

Leef agreed to the motion.

Larry Bagnell, the territory’s former Liberal MLA and current federal Liberal candidate, took his own jab at Leef.

If the political will was there, the bill could have become law before next year’s election, he said.

“When you’re in government, especially in majority, you can do anything,” he said.

“It’s not a valid argument that the bill couldn’t go through. It’s a Conservative controlled House, and a Conservative controlled Senate.”

Bagnell gave six examples of private member’s bills that went from second reading and referral to committee to receiving royal assent within six months.

“While there was no guarantee that it would pass in that time, it certainly was possible to get it done,” he added.

Leef swung back by criticizing Bagnell’s record as an MP, saying people should look closer at how many times he mentioned FASD during his 11 years in Parliament.

“Larry never got a private member’s bill passed in 11 years as our MP,” he said.

“I guess after seven years in opposition he’s merely learned how to critique an issue versus solve one. Larry’s best years are behind him, while mine are still ahead of me.

“Our comparative records will speak for themselves. Like Sandy, he was absent and only now seeks relevance as some champion. The reality is he’s politicizing it for his own self-serving purpose.”

Contact Myles Dolphin at

myles@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Wyatt's World for Oct. 28, 2020.
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for Oct. 28.… Continue reading

Yukon Child Care Board chair Amy Ryder says the board could be playing a bigger role in childcare policy making if they had more financial support from the Yukon government. (Submitted)
Yukon Child Care Board asks for larger role in annual report

The board is asking for a larger budget to increase outreach and advice

Yukon’s clocks will no longer change in March and November but will remain permanently on Pacific Daylight Saving Time. (Courtesy Yukon government)
Off the clock: Yukon prepares to end seasonal time changes

Starting on Nov. 1 Yukon will be one hour ahead of Vancouver and two hours ahead of Alaska

Dawson City as scene from West Dawson. Art Webster, the vice-chair of the Dawson Regional Planning Commission resigned last month over the Yukon governments unwillingness to pause speculative staking. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Vice-chair resigns from Dawson land-use planning commission

NDP warns that not pausing mining activity is the road to a second Peel decision

The opening ceremonies of the Canada Summer Games in Winnipeg on July 28, 2017. The 2021 Canada Summer Games have officially been rescheduled for Aug. 6 to 21, 2022, exactly one year from the date the national competition was originally set to take place in the Niagara region of Ontario. (Canada Summer Games/Flickr)
Canada Summer Games dates set for 2022 but uncertainty remains for Yukon athletes

Yukon athletes continue waiting to get back into schools

A proposed Official Community Plan amendment would designate a 56.3 hectare piece of land in Whistle Bend currently designated as green space, as urban residential use. Whitehorse city council passed first reading on a bylaw for the designation change at its Oct. 26 meeting, prompting an upcoming public hearing on Nov. 23 ahead of second reading on Dec. 7. (Courtesy City of Whitehorse)
Local contractors will be given an advantage on a contract for the design and construction services that will see a new reception building at Robert Service Campground decided city councillors during the Oct. 26 council meeting. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Local firms will get advantage on contract for new Robert Service Campground building

Yukon-based companies competing for contract for new reception building will receive 20 extra points

Fallen trees due to strong winds are seen leaning on to power lines which caused some power outages around the territory on Oct. 26. (Courtesy of ATCO)
Wind knocks out power around the Yukon

High winds on Oct. 26 knocked out power to Faro, parts of Whitehorse and beyond

The Yukon government is asking for all claims in a lawsuit over the Takhini elk herd be struck by the court. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)
Yukon government asks for Takhini elk lawsuit to be struck

The Yukon government is asking for all claims in a lawsuit over… Continue reading

The Yukon government has filed a reply to an outfitter’s petition challenging the reduction of its caribou quota to zero. (Yukon News file)
YG replies to outfitter’s legal challenge over caribou quota

The Yukon government has filed a reply to an outfitter’s petition challenging… Continue reading

The Yukon government is encouraging people to get the flu vaccine this year, saying that with COVID-19, it’s “more important than ever.” (Black Press file)
Get flu vaccine, Yukon government urges

The Yukon government is encouraging people to get the flu vaccine this… Continue reading

Benjamin Munn, 12, watches the HPV vaccine in 2013. Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine will be available to all Yukoners up to, and including, age 26. Currently the program is only available to girls ages nine to 18 and boys ages nine to 14. (Dan Bates/Black Press file)
HPV vaccine will be available to Yukoners up to, including, age 26

Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine will be available… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Most Read