Partisan bickering closes legislative sitting

Moments of co-operation from this legislative sitting are doomed to be overshadowed by the fighting and personal attacks that characterized its final days.

Moments of co-operation from this legislative sitting are doomed to be overshadowed by the fighting and personal attacks that characterized its final days.

Tensions were high on Thursday afternoon, the final day of the sitting.

Speaker David Laxton nearly lost his cool as members of the NDP spoke over Energy Minister Scott Kent, who was answering a question about Yukon Energy’s Whitehorse LNG project.

Laxton became visibly agitated and pointed a finger in the direction of the NDP as he interrupted the proceeding to tell them to be quiet.

“Order please. This is getting to the point where it is bothering my ability to hear what is being said. It is not good. I have had enough.”

This week, Yukon Party members tabled two letters criticizing the public actions of NDP members.

In the first, MLA for Vuntut Gwitchin Darius Elias accused Mayo-Tatchun MLA Jim Tredger of overstepping the rules as a member of the select committee on hydraulic fracturing by speaking to the media about the committee’s work.

The letter also said that “allowing members of your caucus to participate in rallies, waving placards and speaking into microphones,” call into question if he is approaching the committee’s work with an open mind.

In a response, Tredger wrote only, “Thank you for your thoughtful letter.”

Another letter, tabled by Tourism Minister Mike Nixon on Thursday, accused Mount Lorne-Southern Lakes MLA Kevin Barr of “inappropriate and disappointing” conduct at a tourism open house in Dawson City earlier this month.

According to the letter, Barr “accosted departmental staff and demanded the contents of their discussions.”

In a response, Barr wrote that his interactions with staff and the public at the event were “professional and amicable.”

“This petty attempt to deter me from attending public events is beneath the office you hold.

“If you have concerns like this in the future I hope that you can speak to me personally or at least send me the letter before tabling it in the house.”

Despite the inability for members on the opposite side of the house to generally get along, there were brief moments of co-operation.

Members unanimously voted to push through changes to the Vital Statistics Act that would end discrimination against same-sex couples when it comes to recording their names on the birth certificate of a child.

For a moment, it seemed as though the assembly might also co-operate to amend the same act so that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission could access records it had requested regarding the death of children who may have died while attending residential schools.

The debate, however, focused largely on which side of the house was foot-dragging and otherwise creating delays.

It turned out, in the end, that the government had held since early April a legal opinion that made the legislative change unnecessary but failed to present that information until this week.

Thanks to the Yukon Party’s majority government, it didn’t need the support of either opposition party to pass the largest budget this territory has ever seen.

Big expenditures this year include $65 million on highway and bridge work, and $28 million towards the new F.H. Collins school. The government also plans to spend $2 million towards planning a new hydro dam.

A bill to reduce the small business tax rate from four to three per cent received unanimous support from the house.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

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

Just Posted

In a Feb. 17 statement, the City of Whitehorse announced it had adopted the what3words location technology used for emergency response. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Three words could make all the difference in an emergency

City of Whitehorse announced it had adopted the what3words location technology

Jesse Whelen, Blood Ties Four Directions harm reduction councillor, demonstrates how the organization tests for fentanyl in drugs in Whitehorse on May 12, 2020. The Yukon Coroner’s Service has confirmed three drug overdose deaths and one probable overdose death since mid-January. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Three overdose deaths caused by “varying levels of cocaine and fentanyl,” coroner says

Heather Jones says overdoses continue to take lives at an “alarming rate”

Wyatt's World for Feb. 24, 2021.

Wyatt’s World for Feb. 24, 2021.

Approximately 30 Yukoners protest for justice outside the Whitehorse courthouse on Feb. 22, while a preliminary assault hearing takes place inside. The Whitehorse rally took place after the Liard Aboriginal Women’s Society, based in Watson Lake, put out a call to action over the weekend. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Courthouse rally denounces violence against Indigenous women

The Whitehorse rally took place after the Liard Aboriginal Women’s Society put out a call to action

The now empty lot at 410 Cook Street in Whitehorse on January 19. As developers move forward with plans for a housing development that would feature 16 micro-units, they are asking city council for a zoning change that would reduce the number of required parking spaces. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Parking problems predicted

Zoning amendment would create more on-street parking issues, residents say

Susie Rogan is a veteran musher with 14 years of racing experience and Yukon Journey organizer. (Yukon Journey Facebook)
Yukon Journey mushers begin 255-mile race

Eleven mushers are participating in the race from Pelly Crossing to Whitehorse

David Malcolm, 40, has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm a police officer after an incident in Whitehorse on Feb. 18.	(Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Man resists arrest, assaults officer

A Whitehorse man has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm… Continue reading

Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on Aug. 4, 2020. A site on Robert Service Way near the Alaska Highway has been selected as the future home of Yukon Energy’s energy storage project. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Site selected for Yukon Energy battery project

Planned to be in service by the end of 2022

The Yukon government and the Yukon First Nations Chamber of Commerce have signed a letter of understanding under the territory’s new procurement policy. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
First Nation business registry planned under new procurement system

Letter of understanding signals plans to develop registry, boost procurement opportunities

US Consul General Brent Hardt during a wreath-laying ceremony at Peace Arch State Park in September 2020. Hardt said the two federal governments have been working closely on the issue of appropriate border measures during the pandemic. (John Kageorge photo)
New U.S. consul general says countries working closely on COVID-19 border

“I mean, the goal, obviously, is for both countries to get ahead of this pandemic.”

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Start of spring sitting announced

The Yukon legislature is set to resume for the spring sitting on… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse City Council this week

History Hunter: Kwanlin Dün — a book of history, hardship and hope

Dǎ Kwǎndur Ghày Ghàkwadîndur: Our Story in Our Words is published by… Continue reading

Most Read