Misinformation in Fentie’s ranks

Sam Dion is clearly caught in a confusing bureaucratic morass. The man wants to develop a two-hectare parcel of land north of Haines Junction.

Sam Dion is clearly caught in a confusing bureaucratic morass.

The man wants to develop a two-hectare parcel of land north of Haines Junction.

He started the land-application process just after Christmas.

And, in early summer, the Yukon Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment Board approved his application.

At the time, government officials assured him the board’s go-ahead meant his project would get final approval within 90 days.

Four months later, he’s still waiting.

In October, government officials told Dion, in writing, it was the government’s fight with the Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation that was holding things up.

Not true, said Premier Dennis Fentie, during Tuesday’s community tour meeting in Whitehorse.

“I haven’t turned down any applications, nor has the government, based on the Paulson case,” a reference to Larry Paulson, whoes application for an agricultural lease was successfully blocked by the Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation.

An e-mail sent to Dion on October 4th contradicts Fentie’s assertion.

“Because of the recent decision made by the courts — the Paulson decision — we cannot approve your subdivision application at this time,” said the correspondence, sent by community land planning’s Judy Linton.

Fentie was handed a copy of the e-mail at Tuesday’s public meeting.

“I wouldn’t explain any e-mail that went out,” he said. “I never sent it.”

About an hour later, after passing a copy of the e-mail to his executive assistant, Fentie brought it up again.

“I don’t care if an e-mail came from the Pope,” he said. “That ain’t the way it is here. In a democracy, cabinet is the decision maker.”

Access to land is an ongoing daily service that the government provides, said Fentie.

If applicants have been told the process is being held up by the Paulson case, they should bring their applications to the minister’s office, he added.

Dion has already discussed the issue with Energy, Mines and Resources Minister Archie Lang.

“And nothing happened,” he said on Wednesday.

The same day he received the e-mail from community planning, Dion attended a Haines Junction dinner with Fentie and Lang.

There, Dion asked Fentie about the correspondence he’d received.

“Fentie denied it existed,” he said.

After dinner, Dion approached Lang.

The minister reiterated the e-mail.

“Lang told me everything was on hold and nothing was being approved because of the Paulson case,” said Dion.

“And Fentie saw me talking to (Lang).”

Now, Fentie has again suggested talking to Lang.

“But I don’t want to have to drive to Whitehorse every week,” he said.

When Dion talked to Linton, he was told he either had to apply for another 90-day extension or his application would be dropped.

“I didn’t have a choice,” he said.

Dion doesn’t blame Linton.

“It was obviously not her decision, she was told to do it,” he said.

Dion wants to know why Linton was told to put a hold on his application.

“Fentie needs to rein in his bureaucrats and hire qualified managers,” he said.

The good news is Dion’s application should be approved almost immediately.

“If it was all mistakes and nothing is on hold, as Fentie says, then I expect I will quickly receive approval,” he said.

“I’m happy it was all a big mistake.”