Spring legislative sitting wraps up

The spring sitting of the legislature featured some unparliamentary language, bickering and a lot of accusations about mismanagement of capital projects. Thursday was the final sitting day. Also, some bills were passed.

The spring sitting of the legislature featured some unparliamentary language, bickering and a lot of accusations about mismanagement of capital projects.

Thursday was the final sitting day.

Also, some bills were passed.

The billion-dollar budget, the largest in Yukon history, passed yesterday under the so-called guillotine clause.

Under this system, bills that have not been fully debated can be called to a vote on the last day of the assembly without further amendment.

Two new bills responded to recent tragedies in Yukon history.

The Oil-Fired Appliance Safety Statutory Amendment Act aims to increase furnace safety in the wake of the January 2012 deaths of five Porter Creek residents from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Under the new law, carbon monoxide detectors are mandatory in all homes with a furnace or attached garage, and installation or modification of furnaces must be done by a certified mechanic.

The Movable Soccer Goal Safety Act aims to improve safety after five-year-old Jaedyn Amann died after being struck by a collapsible net in a Watson Lake school yard.

The new International Interests in Mobile Equipment (Aircraft Equipment) Act, as well as amendments to the Education Act and Employment Standards Act, were mostly administrative in nature, keeping Yukon law in line with contractual obligations and national standards.

MLAs agreed on a few things, like pushing for a federal inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women and girls, consulting on the probationary period for employment, and re-purposing Dawson’s McDonald Lodge once a new facility is built.

But not getting along still ruled question period, where members toed the line on how far they could go in accusing the other party of lying while escaping the admonishments of Speaker David Laxton.

Opposition parties challenged the government on many issues, some with more validity than others.

The Yukon Party perfected their favoured response when they didn’t have an answer, usually a variation on, “We, unlike the NDP, trust that our public servants are capable people who do their jobs properly.”

Or, if one of the government’s corporations was involved, “Our officials do a good job, and the NDP doesn’t understand how the government works.”

The Peel plan continued to be a feature of the proceedings, and took the first question on both the first and last day of the sitting.

Resources Minister Brad Cathers insisted that accepting the recommended plan would cost the government millions, although documents prepared by Economic Development show that the government has no idea what it would cost.

He also claimed that Chevron has better lawyers than the government. He later apologized by way of sending a box of doughnuts to the government’s lawyer’s lunch room.

And capital-project bungling was another feature of the Opposition’s line of questioning.

Some questions, like the cancelled demolition tender at 207 Alexander, turned out to be non-issues.

Others, like the poured construction pad at the planned arrest processing unit that is too big for what will be built on it, may prove to be more costly.

The government has a number of consultations planned over the summer months, said Premier Darrell Pasloski in an interview after question period yesterday.

One of the legislative priorities for the fall will be to update the Quartz Mining Act to require consultation with unsigned First Nations on Class 1 exploration work occurring in their territories, said Pasloski.

That change comes out of legal battle between the government and the Ross River Dena Council. The case has recently been sent back to Yukon’s Supreme Court.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

jronson@yukon-news.com