Opposition calls foul on whistleblower ‘games’

The Yukon's opposition parties are calling on the government to swiftly prepare whistleblowing legislation. But that doesn't appear likely to happen.

The Yukon’s opposition parties are calling on the government to swiftly prepare whistleblowing legislation.

But that doesn’t appear likely to happen.

For several years now, such efforts have been met by government foot-dragging, say both the NDP and the Liberals.

Not so, said Elaine Taylor, minister responsible for the Public Service Commission.

“This is a priority of our government and has been for some time,” she told the legislature this week.

But it’s hard to square that assertion with the government’s latest move. That very day, house leader Brad Cathers tabled a letter that asked the opposition to name members to sit on a whistleblowing committee.

No need, said NDP Leader Liz Hanson. In December, her party nominated Jan Stick to sit on the committee and told the government as much in writing.

Yet Cathers is now seeking to confirm this is still the case.

“I don’t know how many times I have to do it,” Hanson said in an interview afterwards.

Cathers is also asking the Liberals to reconsider their decision to not participate in the committee.

Their interim leader, Darius Elias, said there’s little point.

“They don’t need our participation to give validity to what I consider a pernicious political process of stalling,” he told reporters. “I’m not going to give this process any validity. It’s a stalling tactic, and they’ve got enough information.”

During the Yukon Party’s previous term in office, a whistleblowing committee met 13 times between 2007 and 2010. During that time, it held consultations and prepared a series of recommendations.

But the government withheld its support of the committee report, so it was never tabled in the legislature.

Taylor agreed that “a significant amount of work” has been done on studying the whistleblower issue to date. “However, it is incomplete,” she said.

The government doesn’t need Liberals to sit on the committee, said Elias. Instead, he’s calling on the Yukon Party to table a draft law.

“The work is 90 per cent complete,” he said. “All they need to do is do the heavy lifting and give the proper direction.”

Hanson agreed there’s no need to wait for the Liberals to appoint a member. “This isn’t about the third party,” she said. “It’s about the government wasting time and playing games, instead of moving forward with this legislation.”

Hanson asked Taylor several times to provide a timeline of the government’s plans to introduce a whistleblowing law.

But that won’t happen until opposition parties name their committee members, said Taylor.

“In the meantime, I want to be very clear that there are protections available through public-sector legislation, through collective agreements and a variety of other dispute-resolution mechanisms housed throughout government policy that are available to those employees who feel aggrieved,” she said.

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