Ministers Cathers and Kent knew of Mountain View bail out last year

Over the past 10 days, Yukon ministers Brad Cathers and Scott Kent have deflected criticism over a secretive $750,000 bail-out of the Mountain View Golf Club.

Over the past 10 days, Yukon ministers Brad Cathers and Scott Kent have deflected criticism over a secretive $750,000 bail-out of the Mountain View Golf Club through repeated insistence that they don’t yet have enough information to make a judgement.

“For us to come to conclusions about whether we would have handled things the same way or would have handled it differently, we won’t pass judgement at this point,” said Cathers, minister for community services, in an interview on Nov. 27.

“Quite frankly we just don’t have enough understanding of everything that led up to it.”

“We’re still working with officials to gather the full details of what transpired, and why and how,” said Resources Minister Kent in the same interview.

But Cathers and Kent have been preparing to answer these questions for more than a year, when Meadow Lakes Golf & Country Club owner Jeff Luehmann started asking questions, after hearing about the deal from a concerned government employee.

The deal was disguised from public view by making it look like a land purchase, which it was not. To this day the government continues to conceal facts and refuse to answer questions about what happened.

Premier Darrell Pasloski excused himself from having to do with the government’s response on the advice of the territory’s conflict of interest commissioner, because he was on the Mountain View board of directors at the time of the bail-out, not four months before he became Yukon’s premier.

Pasloski designated Cathers and Kent to lead the file in Oct. 2013.

That means they’ve both had 14 months to get their facts in order.

Still, for the first week after the matter came to public attention, the ministers denied involvement, changed their stories and repeated misleading information.

When the NDP Opposition first brought up the issue on Nov. 26, Cathers said that the land transfer was required for a perimeter trail and storm water management for Whistle Bend, and for potential future lot development. He hedged his answers three times by saying he wasn’t directly involved and is relying on limited information from his staff.

The next day, his story changed. He admitted, only in the face of evidence made public by the NDP, that one of the purposes of the deal was to bail out the golf club.

Kent, meanwhile, appeared to be reading off old briefing notes containing false information as recently as yesterday.

“Acting at that time in 2010, the Yukon government purchased this land back from the Mountain View Golf Course to house important infrastructure to enhance the lot availability at Whistle Bend,” Kent said in the legislature on Thursday.

The statement, which matches a briefing note prepared in Oct. 2013, is riddled with mistruths.

The deal was in 2011, not 2010.

It was not a land purchase – the Yukon government owned the land before and after the deal.

Whistle Bend may use or have plans to use some of the land for peripheral infrastructure, but this was not a stated intention or goal of the deal, according to the documents that have become available.

And the City of Whitehorse has no interest in building lots on the parcel. It has said repeatedly it would oppose such a development.

Cathers and Kent did not respond to an interview request for this story.

Yesterday, under questioning from the NDP, Cathers came as close as this government has come to an admission that the previous government did not handle the deal with appropriate transparency.

“The change in practice that is currently in place would see us issuing a press release in this type of situation,” he said.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

jronson@yukon-news.com

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