Tipsy public drinking bans set straight

During a brief window in late October and early November, it was perfectly legal to drink alcoholic beverages in public in six Yukon communities. Actually, that may have been the case since 1994.

During a brief window in late October and early November, it was perfectly legal to drink alcoholic beverages in public in six Yukon communities.

Actually, that may have been the case since 1994. But it was only in late October when officials became aware of this peculiar problem. And when they did find out, they understandably kept it hushed up.

Blame a section of the Yukon Languages Act, which requires regulations to be published in both English and French. Translations were never published for drinking ban regulations for Dawson City, Mayo, Teslin, Pelly Crossing, Carmacks and Watson Lake.

This work was supposed to have been done by 1994. Failing that, the Languages Act forbids any untranslated regulation from being enforced.

Government officials clued in to this legal limbo in late October. Virginia Labelle, vice-president of the Yukon Liquor Board, calls the incident an “oversight.”

Justice officials advised RCMP detachments in affected communities to “hold off” on enforcing the public drinking bans until the regulations had been fixed, she said.

This didn’t pose any major inconvenience, because separate laws that forbid being intoxicated in public, or causing a disturbance, remained in effect, said Sgt. Don Rogers, a spokesman for the RCMP.

New regulations were signed-off by the commissioner on November 5 – in both official languages.