Liberals give ATCO another go

The Liberals are trying to breathe new life into the ATCO scandal. They're accusing the Yukon Party's Brad Cathers of being more deeply implicated in the energy-privatization deal than he previously let on.

The Liberals are trying to breathe new life into the ATCO scandal.

They’re accusing the Yukon Party’s Brad Cathers of being more deeply implicated in the energy-privatization deal than he previously let on.

These allegations are prompted by a CHON-FM report this week. It notes that Cathers, as Energy minister, signed off on several contracts to hire consultants who analyzed Alberta-based ATCO’s bid to buy Yukon Energy’s assets.

According to Mike Simon, the Liberal candidate who hopes to unseat Cathers in Lake Laberge, this shows the MLA “started the privatization ball rolling” and throws his credibility into doubt.

But that misconstrues the entire dispute, said Cathers.

When he resigned from cabinet and caucus in the autumn of 2009, Cathers accused then-premier Dennis Fentie of misleading the public, and of ordering Cathers to do the same. Instead, he quit.

But Cathers never claimed to be unaware that privatization was considered, as the Liberals have suggested.

“It’s one thing to consider something. But lying about what you’ve considered is not acceptable,” said Cathers.

“It’s been no secret who signed the contracts, and I talked about it publicly. Either their candidate is unfamiliar with the facts, including what his own caucus members have said in the House, or they know the facts and are just choosing to make a partisan attack anyway.”

Simon repeated calls for the government to release the piles of paper connected to the ATCO affair, which have been kept secret to date. Cathers once wanted those documents in public view too.

But, now that Fentie’s been replaced by Darrell Pasloski, and Cathers has returned to the government fold, he doesn’t see any need.

“As far as I’m concerned, this is two-year-old news,” said Cathers.

Contact John Thompson at

johnt@yukon-news.com.