Public inquiry should be made into privatization talks, Phelps tells bipartisan rally

Premier Dennis Fentie's government was criticized for being dictatorial, arrogant and secretive at an open-air public meeting Monday night. Four speakers -- each connected to the Yukon Energy Corporation in their own way -- took the stage to denounce Fentie's secret discussions...

Premier Dennis Fentie’s government was criticized for being dictatorial, arrogant and secretive at an open-air public meeting Monday night.

Four speakers—each connected to the Yukon Energy Corporation in their own way—took the stage to denounce Fentie’s secret discussions with Calgary-based ATCO to sell parts of the Crown corporation.

The sight would have been unimaginable three weeks ago.

A former Conservative premier. A socialist party leader. A Liberal Energy critic and former New Democrat commissioner. And a representative of the close-knit Crown corporation employees.

None of them minced words.

“This is a sellout of the Yukon,” said New Democrat Party leader Todd Hardy, who organized the rally. Hardy is stepping down as leader, but is incensed by what’s been described as the “back-door privatization” of Yukon Energy.

“If there’s anything that got me into politics, it’s privatization,” he said last week.

The only non-political speaker of the evening, Janet Patterson, spoke on behalf of more than 20 Yukon Energy employees who have publicly broken ranks with the government over Fentie’s hush-hush talks.

“The government admitted that it had talks with ATCO,” said Patterson, who learned this from the new Yukon Energy chair Pat Irvin in a meeting earlier in the day.

The talks included selling Yukon Energy at a fraction of its worth, about 10 cents on the dollar, to ATCO, she said, referring to media reports.

“That’s how much the government thinks we’re worth,” she said.

“To (privatize Yukon Energy) in this sneaky way, it’s terrible and it’s not the Yukon way,” said Yukon Energy chair Willard Phelps, who quit two weeks ago citing Fentie’s interference in the corporation.

Once, a “man was as good as his word” in the Yukon, said Phelps.

But the Fentie government is a new brand of politics—one that Phelps repeatedly described as not doing things in the “Yukon way.”

“So what do we have here?” Phelps told about 80 people attending the rally. “We have manipulation. We have cowardice. We have secret deals. We have a lack of loyalty. We have backstabbing.”

“These are not the type of ethics we honour in the Yukon,” said Phelps.

A public inquiry should be held into Fentie’s actions to bring everything to light, he said.

The unlikely allies poked fun at each other, too.

Gary McRobb, the former Liberal minister of Yukon Energy who criticized Phelps for receiving a higher than average wage for board duties two months ago, got a laugh when he paid respect to Phelps.

“I just want to say,” said McRobb. “It doesn’t matter what they pay you, Willard. You earned every penny of it.”

Contact James Munson at

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

Just Posted

Yukon RCMP are making an appeal for information in the case of Mary Ann Ollie, who was murdered in Ross River last year and whose case remains unsolved. (Black Press file)
Yukon youth being extorted online

Yukon RCMP say they’ve received three reports of youth being extorted on… Continue reading

Fines for contravening the fire ban start at $1,150 and could go as high as $100,000. File photo
Yukon campgrounds will open on May 1 this year. (Black Press file)
Yukon campgrounds to open early

Yukon campgrounds will open on May 1 this year. The early opening… Continue reading

Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce executive director Susan Guatto and program manager Andrei Samson outside the chamber office in downtown Whitehorse Feb. 23. (Stephanie Waddell, Yukon News)
When business models shift

Whitehorse chamber offers digital marketing workshop

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: The aesthetics and economics of highway strips

One of the many cultural experiences you enjoy while driving from Whitehorse… Continue reading

Artwork by Grade 2 student Faith showing her thanks for everyone.
Artwork by Grade 2 student Faith showing her thanks for everyone. (Submitted)
Yukon kids express gratitude for nature, pets and friends in art campaign

More than 50 children submitted artwork featuring things they are grateful for

Tom Ullyett, pictured, is the first Yukoner to receive the Louis St-Laurent Award of Excellence from the Canadian Bar Association for his work as a community builder and mentor in the territory. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Tom Ullyett wins lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Bar Association

Ullyett has worked in the Yukon’s justice ecosystem for 36 years as a public sector lawyer and mentor

The Blood Ties outreach van will now run seven nights a week, thanks to a boost in government funding. Logan Godin, coordinator, and Jesse Whelen, harm reduction counsellor, are seen here on May 12, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Blood Ties outreach van running seven nights a week with funding boost

The Yukon government is ramping up overdose response, considering safe supply plan

Ranj Pillai speaks to media about business relief programs in Whitehorse on April 1, 2020. The Yukon government announced Feb.25 that it will extend business support programs until September. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Government extends business relief programs to September, launches new loan

“It really gives folks some help with supporting their business with cash flow.”

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
A look at decisions made by Whitehorse City Council this week

Bylaw amendment Whitehorse city council is moving closer with changes to a… Continue reading

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

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. As the legislature prepares to return on March 4, the three parties are continuing to finalize candidates in the territory’s 19 ridings. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Nine new candidates confirmed in Yukon ridings

It has been a busy two weeks as the parties try to firm up candidates

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

Most Read