Spending watchdog committee works fine, says Fentie

A Liberal Party plan to alter a legislative spending watchdog committee is part of a political witch hunt, says Premier Dennis Fentie.

A Liberal Party plan to alter a legislative spending watchdog committee is part of a political witch hunt, says Premier Dennis Fentie.

Last week, Liberal Leader Arthur Mitchell suggested the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, an all-party body that investigates government spending, reorganize to shift power away from the Yukon Party majority that opposition MLAs say blocks the committee’s work.

The proposal would remove one seat on the seven-member committee from the Yukon Party’s four and add it to the NDP’s one, giving the opposition four seats and the majority.

“Mr. Mitchell (is in) no place to talk about restructuring anything about this committee — he quit,” said Fentie in an interview on Friday.

“Mr. Mitchell’s approach is obvious — it’s political in nature.

“It’s a witch hunt. He’s after people and he’s using the democratic process to do that.”

The Yukon Party used its majority to block an investigation into a now-frozen $36.5-million investment in asset-backed commercial paper that the government has yet to recover, said Mitchell.

In March, the four government members on the committee ­— Glenn Hart, Marian Horne, Patrick Rouble and Steve Nordick — voted against holding hearings about the investment.

Mitchell and Liberal MLA Don Inverarity resigned in protest after the vote, though technically they can’t be removed until a legislative motion is made.

Finance officials have been cleared of any wrongdoing, so there’s no need for an investigation, said Fentie.

Mitchell said he would seek Yukon Party support for committee changes, which would have to be made by the legislature.

Fentie wouldn’t confirm if he would support changes if they went to the legislature.

“Those committees are structured as they are,” said Fentie.

“It’s working because this government ensured it’s working.”

Earlier in the year, the committee met to follow up an Auditor General report investigating government spending for the Canada Winter Games.

NDP Leader Todd Hardy supports the Liberal proposal.

“I’m not going to object to the reorganization,” said Hardy in an interview Monday.

“But there’s no way in the world it would happen.”

MLA John Edzerza is the sole NDP member on the committee.

The government will never relinquish power to the opposition, said Hardy.

He suggests making the board equal, giving the opposition and government the same amount of seats.

The balanced board would force party co-operation, he said.

“As long as one side holds power, there’s always an imbalance,” said Hardy.

But sabotaging the committee is the wrong course of action because it can still do a lot of good work, he added.

“(Mitchell) didn’t get his way, so he quit,” said Hardy.

“But there are government corporations that need investigation, every department needs to be looked at. This isn’t just about asset-backed commercial paper.”

Mitchell should get serious about his duty to the Yukon public instead of playing political games, said Fentie.

“Issuing press releases isn’t going to do anything. He’s got to wrap his mind around what his responsibilities are and his duty to the public.”

Just Posted

Willow Brewster, a paramedic helping in the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre, holds a swab used for the COVID-19 test moments before using it on Nov. 24. The Yukon government is reopening the drive-thru option on June 18. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Drive-up COVID-19 testing opening June 18 in Whitehorse

The drive-up testing will be open from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. everyday and increase testing capacity by 33 spots

A draft plan has been released by the Dawson Regional Use Planning commission on June 15. Julien Gignac/Yukon News
Draft plan released by the Dawson Regional Land Use Planning Commission

Dawson Regional Land Use Commission releases draft plan, Government of Yukon withdraws additional lands from mineral staking in the planning region

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Let them live in trailers

“I found Rome a city of bricks and left it a city… Continue reading


Wyatt’s World for June 18, 2021.… Continue reading

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Yukon News file)
Yukon logs nine new COVID-19 cases, 54 active cases

More CEMA enforcement officers have been recruited, officials say

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

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council at its June 14 meeting

Murray Arsenault sits in the drivers seat of his 1975 Bricklin SV1 in Whitehorse on June 16. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Bringing the 1975 Bricklin north

Murray Arsenault remembers his dad’s Bricklin, while now driving his own

A presumptive COVID case was found at Seabridge Gold’s 3 Aces project. (file photo)
Presumptive COVID-19 case reported at mine in southeast Yukon

A rapid antigen rest found a presumptive COVID case on an incoming individual arriving at the 3Aces project

Jonathan Antoine/Cabin Radio
Flooding in Fort Simpson on May 8.
Fort Simpson asked for military help. Two people showed up.

FORT SIMPSON—Residents of a flooded Northwest Territories village expected a helping hand… Continue reading

A woman was rescued from the Pioneer Ridge Trail in Alaska on June 16. (Photo courtesy/AllTrails)
Alaska hiker chased off trail by bears flags down help

ANCHORAGE (AP)—An Alaska hiker who reported needing help following bear encounters on… Continue reading

Two participants cross the finish line at the City of Whitehorse Kids Triathlon on June 12 with Mayor Dan Curtis on hand to present medals. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
2021 Kids’ Triathlon draws 76 young athletes

Youth ages five to 14 swim, run and bike their way to finish line

NDP MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq rises in the House of Commons, in Ottawa on May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
‘Unacceptable’ that Inuk MP felt unsafe in House of Commons, Miller says

OTTAWA—It’s a “sad reflection” on Canada that an Inuk MP feels she’s… Continue reading

Lily Witten performs her Canadian Nationals beam routine on June 14. John Tonin/Yukon News
Three Yukon gymnasts break 20-year Nationals absence

Bianca Berko-Malvasio, Maude Molgat and Lily Witten competed at the Canadian Nationals – the first time in 20 years the Yukon’s been represented at the meet

Most Read