Review conflict of interest legislation, says NDP

A sitting minister is given an Escalade from a construction company that just received a contract from the minister’s department. Conflict of interest? Probably.

A sitting minister is given an Escalade from a construction company that just received a contract from the minister’s department. Conflict of interest? Probably.

How about a sitting minster accepting a free ride to the airport in an Escalade from that same contractor?

In the Yukon, you might be excused if you thought so because there is no definition of what is not a conflict of interest. In Nunavut, the situation is much clearer. The minister would not be in any conflict whatsoever because its Integrity Act defines what is not a conflict.

When income tax legislation is brought up, is it going to be considered a conflict of interest because it affects MLAs?

That’s hard for Yukon to answer too.

It’s time for the Yukon to pass similar amendments to its conflict of interest legislation, says the Yukon NDP after reviewing the Yukon conflict of interest commissioner’s annual report.

“As the commissioner laid out in his report, there’s an extensive list of what is a conflict of interest,” said Elizabeth Hanson, party leader of the Yukon NDP. “There’s less on what’s not and we would like to have that expanded upon in terms of a discussion.”

The definition should be similar to that included in Nunavut’s Integrity Act that says a private interest does not include, “anything of general application to the public, or that affects a person as one of a broad class of persons, or concerns the remuneration or benefits of a Member, officer or employee of the legislative assembly,” the report stated.

There have been many instances where former conflict of interest commissioners had to investigate perceived conflicts of interest, said Hanson.

One such case, in the late 1990s, was the belief that government officials had inside information on real-estate trading.

“I think for the most part, [the investigations] exonerated the people who were involved,” said Hanson. “If it had been clear from the outset that certain things weren’t a conflict, it might not have caused as much potential damage. It is potential for damage against a person’s reputation and character.”

“Perception can damn people.”

Ideas of what is a conflict of interest evolve over time, the commissioner stated.

But unlike the rest of Canada, the Yukon has not kept up with this evolution, said Hanson.

Two tweaks the territory should make to its conflict of interest legislation include registration for lobbyists and protection for whistleblowers, she said.

The government needs to ensure “that where there are issues with perceived or actual wrongdoing going on within the government system, people can, with safety, identify that and report it in a way, as they do now, feel that they’re jeopardizing their careers.”

These changes would make for a more transparent and accountable political system, she said.

“One of the challenges that we’ve been facing is that it’s become very clear to everybody that we have a real lack of financial and political accountability in this territory under Mr. (Dennis) Fentie. When you don’t have that openness or transparency in what’s going on and what decisions are being made, it becomes even more important that we find the mechanisms to assist citizens to know who’s influencing the decisions that are being made and that is what a registry of lobbyist does. “

Contact Larissa Robyn Johnston at larissaj@yukon-news.com

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

Just Posted

Chloe Tatsumi dismounts the balance beam to cap her routine during the Yukon Championships at the Polarettes Gymnastics Club on May 1. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Gymnasts vie in 2021 Yukon Championships

In a year without competition because of COVID-19, the Polarettes Gymnastics Club hosted its Yukon Championships.

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Yukon Budget 2.0

If the banks that finance the Yukon’s growing debt were the only… Continue reading

Yukon Supreme Court Chief Justice Suzanne Duncan dismissed an application on May 3 seeking more transparity on the territory’s state of emergency declaration. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Supreme Court rules confidential memo can’t be used in challenge of state of emergency

Court upholds cabinet confidentiality after request to use internal government memo as evidence.

XX
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for May 7, 2021.… Continue reading

The deceased man, found in Lake LaBerge in 2016, had on three layers of clothing, Dakato work boots, and had a sheathed knife on his belt. Photo courtesy Yukon RCMP
RCMP, Coroner’s Office seek public assistance in identifying a deceased man

The Yukon RCMP Historical Case Unit and the Yukon Coroner’s Office are looking for public help to identify a man who was found dead in Lake LaBerge in May 2016.

Yukon Zinc’s Wolverine minesite has created a mess left to taxpayers to clean up, Lewis Rifkind argues. This file shot shows the mine in 2009. (John Thompson/Yukon News file)
Editorial: The cost of the Wolverine minesite

Lewis Rifkind Special to the News The price of a decent wolverine… Continue reading

Letters to the editor.
Today’s mailbox: border opening and Yukon Party texts

Dear Premier Sandy Silver and Dr Hanley, Once again I’m disheartened and… Continue reading

Fire chief Jason Everett (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City launches emergency alert system

The city is calling on residents and visitors to register for Whitehorse Alert

Two young orienteers reach their first checkpoint near Shipyards Park during a Yukon Orienteering Association sprint race May 5. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Orienteers were back in action for the season’s first race

The Yukon Orienteering Association began its 2021 season with a sprint race beginning at Shipyards.

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)
City news, briefly

A look at issues discussed by Whitehorse city council at its May 3 meeting and the upcoming 20-minute makeover.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland met with MP Larry Bagnell and representatives from the Tourism Industry Association via Zoom on May 4. (Facebook)
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland met with MP Larry Bagnell and representatives from the Tourism Industry Association via Zoom on May 4. (Facebook)
Deputy Prime Minister talks tourism in “virtual visit” to the Yukon

Tourism operators discussed the budget with Freeland

Polarity Brewing is giving people extra incentive to get their COVID vaccine by offering a ‘free beer’ within 24 hours of their first shot. John Tonin/Yukon News
Polarity Brewing giving out ‘free’ beer with first COVID vaccination

Within 24 hours of receiving your first COVID-19 vaccine, Polarity Brewing will give you a beer.

Most Read