Yukon Premier Darrell Pasloski sat on the board of the Mountain View Golf Club in February of 2011, when the society inked a secret $750,000 deal with the Yukon government that was made to look like a land purchase.
According to documents filed with Community Services, Pasloski sat on the board from May 2010 to April or May of 2011.
His tenure precisely overlaps the period when then-Community Services minister Archie Lang was instructing staff to come up with a creative way to help Mountain View with its $500,000 debt load, according to correspondence made public last week.
Pasloski announced his candidacy for leader of the Yukon Party in late April 2011, and won the position a month later.
The 2011 agreement saw the Yukon government pay the golf club $750,000 to relinquish a lease to an adjacent parcel of land that had been set aside for possible future course expansion.
But Mountain View had only ever paid $125 annually on the lease, and had neither the intention nor the means to expand the course in the near future.
The Yukon government’s official story, until last week, has been that City of Whitehorse was interested in the parcel for potential expansion of Whistle Bend. But this is not true.
Both then and now, the city would oppose the idea of such an expansion.
The deal was hidden from public scrutiny until last week, only after the owner of the Meadow Lakes Golf and Country Club spent a year and close to $1,000 fighting the government to release information about the deal.
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This past week the Yukon government has deflected questions by asserting that a former Yukon Party government is responsible, and ministers are relying on information provided by staff.
But Elaine Taylor, who was a cabinet minister both then and now, has not responded to repeated interview requests on the issue.
And now it seems highly likely that Pasloski was intimately involved in the deal.
On the phone Tuesday, Pasloski said he hasn’t spoken to the issue on the advice of Yukon’s conflict of interest commissioner.
“I did talk to the conflicts commissioner who advised me quite a long time ago that this in fact would be a conflict for me and that’s why I haven’t been part of any of the discussions,” said Pasloski.
When asked if he was aware of the deal at the time, he declined to comment.
When asked why the conflict of interest was not disclosed to the Yukon public, cabinet spokesperson Elaine Schiman interrupted the interview to say that that’s all the premier will say on the issue at this time.
Schiman later sent the News a copy of a letter dated Oct. 11, 2013, from Pasloski’s executive assistant to ministers Cathers and Kent, about the golf course issue.
It says that after a discussion with the conflict of interest commissioner, “and to avoid any possibility of the perception of a conflict of interest, Premier Pasloski will not be involved with this file.”
It does not say that the commissioner advised Pasloski not to speak to the issue or not to disclose his involvement with the golf course to the public.
In fact, because Pasloski was not a member of the legislative assembly when the golf course deal was inked, and left his position on the board before being elected, none of his involvement with Mountain View meets the definition of a conflict of interest under Yukon’s legislation.
While it might be considered a conflict of interest if Pasloski were to, say, vote next week on a deal that would benefit the golf club, there does not appear to be anything in the legislation that would prevent him from addressing today his actions on the golf club board before he was premier.
David Jones, Yukon’s conflict of interest commissioner, confirmed that the Conflict of Interest (Members and Ministers) Act covers only the actions of ministers while they hold the position.
“I do not have jurisdiction with respect to events that took place before a person became a member or minister, or after they cease to be a member or minister,” he wrote in an email Tuesday afternoon.
Jones also wrote that MLAs can ask him for confidential advice, but that advice is rarely made public.
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While a former Yukon Party government signed the golf club deal, the current government is complicit in the cover-up.
A Community Services communications document from October, 2013 describes the deal this way:
“As this land was a prime location for the future expansion of the Whistle Bend residential project, the Yukon government obtained an independent property appraisal and with the support from the City of Whitehorse, purchased the land from the Mountain View Golf Club in 2010.”
This was the government’s suggested response to questions from the public and the media, and almost every word is untrue.
The government has failed to answer questions about the briefing or take responsibility for the false information contained in it.
Jeff Luehmann, owner of the Meadow Lakes golf club, first heard about a sketchy land transfer involving Mountain View from a government employee a little more than a year ago.
That’s when he started asking questions. In fact it was a letter from Luehmann requesting information about the deal that triggered the communications briefing just mentioned.
“A lot of times, I was just getting stuff, ‘We can’t find it, it’s not available, we don’t know what you’re talking about.’ It was frustrating, to say the least,” he said.
Community Services acknowledged receipt of an access-to-information request from Luehmann on October 11, 2013.
The deadline to respond was pushed back twice by the records manager, the second time after the previously set deadline had passed.
At that point Luehmann requested a review by the information and privacy commissioner, launching a long inquiry into the department’s handling of the file.
Community Services challenged the commissioner’s authority to investigate, arguing that failure to meet a deadline does not constitute a refusal to release records, according to the August 2014 inquiry report.
Diane McLeod-McKay, the commissioner, ultimately found that the department had no authority to refuse access to the records, and recommended they be released.
Two years ago the Yukon Party government amended the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, making it harder for Yukoners to get information about government business. Some of the restrictions were unprecedented in Canada, according to the commissioner at the time.
Luehmann said he was charged close to $1,000 for copies of the documents related to the Mountain View deal, some of which have since been posted online at the Yukon NDP Caucus website.
The government needs to be held accountable, he said.
“I don’t think that amount of money should just go without notifying the public. I think the public needs to be aware of those things.”
Contact Jacqueline Ronson at