The Yukon Legislative Assembly has a bit of an odd tradition.
While many aspects of debate are carefully timed and regulated to keep government on track and moving forward, this is not the case for the part of the day called “tributes.”
Near the beginning of each sitting day, any member can stand and speak at any length in tribute to any subject of their choosing.
The speeches sometimes honour a Yukoner who has passed away or a local organization or event.
Often they recognize any cause, disease or group of people that has had a day, week or month named for it.
Tributes over the past two months have included speeches in honour of biodiversity month, national volunteer week, law day, and irritable bowel syndrome awareness month.
Yesterday, on the last day of the sitting, NDP MLA Kate White delivered a humorous and lighthearted tribute to tributes that asked if these sometimes-longwinded speeches are the best use of legislative time and resources.
“Shakespeare said that brevity is the soul of wit, but I speak not of brevity, but verbosity in this tribute, as I rise of behalf of the tribute writers to pay tribute to the tribute,” she said.
She pointed out that on May 7, nine tributes accounted for 20 per cent of the words said in the assembly that day.
She also brought attention to the fact that Yukon Party members delivered nearly three times as many tributes on days where Opposition motions were up for debate compared with days where their own motions had the floor.
“A very flimsy cost-benefit analysis of the tribute pegs the economic value of the tribute and its spinoffs in the thousands of dollars,” said White.
“Hansard staff, caucus and cabinet employees count on the tribute to put food on their tables and iPads in their children’s hands.
“Maybe we need a new strategy to increase and maximize the benefits of the tribute. Maybe we need to follow the recommendations of the Yukon tribute advisory board, or YTAB, which I’m told may or may not exist.
“We wonder what bold tributes await us when we return to this legislative assembly in the fall,” White said in closing.
“I hope that perhaps my dreams will come true and we will be back in time for International Talk Like a Pirate Day.
“Argh,” she said, in her best pirate-speak, “that would be great.”