Looks like Hart, sounds like Fentie

Glenn Hart can split hairs like the best of them. The Riverdale South MLA is widely considered to be one of the more decent and forthright members in cabinet.

Glenn Hart can split hairs like the best of them.

The Riverdale South MLA is widely considered to be one of the more decent and forthright members in cabinet.

But he, along with the rest of his colleagues in government, finds himself backed into the same corner over the ATCO scandal. So, asked to explain the mess to constituents at a meeting last week, he didn’t sound like his usual self.

Instead, he sounded a lot like Premier Dennis Fentie.

Like Fentie, he failed to address many outstanding questions about the scandal. Also like Fentie, he tried to brush aside the matter by making a statement that would be misleading to many.

“The sale of assets was never on the table,” said Hart.

Yet Hart later conceded the territory did, in fact, consider privatizing Yukon Energy, as proposed by Alberta-based ATCO.

How do you square those two statements? With some peculiar reasoning, and by taking a narrow view of what phrases like “on the table” mean.

Cabinet never authorized the sale of assets. According to Hart and others in cabinet, this means that privatization was never entertained.

But a joint position paper produced by the territory and ATCO in May tells a different story. It shows ATCO proposed rolling Yukon Energy’s assets into a new company that would be privately controlled.

Just how far these talks were pursued remains unclear, because Fentie refuses to disclose other documents connected to the ATCO offer.

Fentie has even contradicted himself on the nature of these talks. He told reporters over the summer that privatization may have been floated at some point during the ATCO talks.

Yet, when the legislature reconvened, he took a firmer line, declaring that privatization was never considered.

His ministers, including Hart, are toeing that line as well.

Hart also insisted that cabinet ministers knew of Fentie’s talks with ATCO.

“We were fully aware of what the premier was doing,” he said.

Brad Cathers says otherwise. He quit as Energy minister in August over Fentie’s handling of the ATCO affair.

After tendering his resignation, Cathers alleged Fentie lied to the public and cabinet about the ATCO talks. He further alleged Fentie did end-runs around the ministers responsible for the public utility during these talks.

This last allegation is corroborated by three former Yukon Energy directors. They all say that Jim Kenyon, who was responsible for Yukon Energy at the time, was unaware that the privatization talks were underway until he was told during a meeting last December.

Upset, Kenyon threatened to quit at the meeting, according to the directors and Cathers.

But Kenyon, who remained silent for three months on this matter, recently denied ever having threatened to resign.

The ATCO talks will become fully explained, said Hart. Just not yet.

In another echo of Fentie, he said the proper place to discuss the ATCO affair is the public accounts committee.

But the committee has a narrow mandate that makes it poorly suited to investigate the matter, said Cathers. Its job is simply to review whether government policy has been properly followed.

It likely won’t be able to get to the bottom of the premier’s role in the privatization talks.

However, moving the ATCO matter into the committee will likely help to shift the focus from Fentie to officials.

That’s unfair, said Cathers. It’s the job of politicians to justify the policy decisions they make. Yet Fentie has so far refused to do this. Instead, he’s throwing officials into the firing line.

And while Fentie and cabinet insist privatization was never entertained, he and Hart have both justified such talks by pointing out Yukon’s energy grid is badly in need of upgrades, as evidenced by the number of blackouts the territory has experienced over the past year.

“I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of buying power bars,” said Hart.

Contact John Thompson at


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

Just Posted

Wyatt’s World

Wyatt’s World for March 5, 2021.

City councillor Samson Hartland in Whitehorse on Dec. 3, 2018. Hartland has announced his plans to run for mayor in the Oct. 21 municipal election. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillor sets sights on mayor’s chair

Hartland declares election plans

Premier Sandy Silver speaks to media after delivering the budget in the legislature in Whitehorse on March 4. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Territorial budget predicts deficit of $12.7 million, reduced pandemic spending in 2021-2022

If recovery goes well, the territory could end up with a very small surplus.

Dawson City RCMP are reporting a break and enter on Feb. 25 after two masked men entered a residence, assaulted a man inside with a weapon and departed. (Black Press file)
Two men arrested after Dawson City home invasion

Dawson City RCMP are reporting a break and enter on Feb. 25.… Continue reading

Highways and Public Works Minister Richard Mostyn speaks to reporters at a news conference in Whitehorse on Dec. 21, 2017. New ATIPP laws are coming into effect April 1. (Chris Windeyer/Yukon News file)
New access to information laws will take effect April 1

“Our government remains committed to government openness and accountability.”

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley receives his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine from Public Health Nurse Angie Bartelen at the Yukon Convention Centre Clinic in Whitehorse on March 3. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
State of emergency extended for another 90 days

“Now we’re in a situation where we see the finish line.”

Team Yukon athletes wave flags at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games opening ceremony in Whitehorse. The 2022 event in Wood Buffalo, Alta., has been postponed indefinitely. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News file)
2022 Arctic Winter Games postponed indefinitely

Wood Buffalo, Alta., Host Society committed to rescheduling at a later date

Crews work to clear the South Klondike Highway after an avalanche earlier this week. (Submitted)
South Klondike Highway remains closed due to avalanches

Yukon Avalanche Association recommending backcountry recreators remain vigilant

RCMP Online Crime Reporting website in Whitehorse on March 5. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Whitehorse RCMP launch online crime reporting

Both a website and Whitehorse RCMP app are now available

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is preparing for a pandemic-era election this October with a number of measures proposed to address COVID-19 restrictions. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City gets set for Oct. 21 municipal election

Elections procedures bylaw comes forward

A rendering of the Normandy Manor seniors housing facility. (Photo courtesy KBC Developments)
Work on seniors housing project moves forward

Funding announced for Normandy Manor

Tom Ullyett, pictured, is the first Yukoner to receive the Louis St-Laurent Award of Excellence from the Canadian Bar Association for his work as a community builder and mentor in the territory. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Tom Ullyett wins lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Bar Association

Ullyett has worked in the Yukon’s justice ecosystem for 36 years as a public sector lawyer and mentor

The Blood Ties outreach van will now run seven nights a week, thanks to a boost in government funding. Logan Godin, coordinator, and Jesse Whelen, harm reduction counsellor, are seen here on May 12, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Blood Ties outreach van running seven nights a week with funding boost

The Yukon government is ramping up overdose response, considering safe supply plan

Most Read