Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

What went down at the legislative assembly this fall

Liberals tout passed bills; opposition parties say there’s been little to no action on other fronts

Premier Sandy Silver told reporters that Yukoners expect legislation to be modernized, a priority that his government has accomplished this fall in the legislative assembly.

The sitting wrapped up Nov. 22.

Big takeaways included the passing of amendments to the Coroner’s Act, the new access to information and privacy act, the updated Societies Act and overhauling legislation to ensure that gender-neutral language is used.

It should be noted that despite municipalities having the option of subscribing to the information and privacy law, the Yukon government has the authority to force them to come under it. Whether this power will be used is unclear, however.

Silver said changes to budgetary processes have freed up time for more legislative changes, a move ensuring that the Yukon is “at the forefront when it comes to social issues.”

Several hot button topics resurfaced repeatedly this sitting.

Carbon pricing was one of them, which will come into effect in the Yukon in July, six months later than other jurisdictions that are part of the federal government’s backstop.

The Yukon Party relentlessly tried to suss out more details about the plan but to no avail, it seems.

It inquired as to whether the trucking industry, for instance, will be entitled to an exemption like the aviation sector is.

“The trucking industry has told us they can’t even get a meeting with the premier in regards” to gaining an exemption, Yukon Party Leader Stacey Hassard told reporters.

“The answers aren’t any better than they were two years ago,” he added.

Rebates collected from Ottawa will flow back to Yukoners, Silver said, a point he’s insisted thoroughout the sitting.

“We do know that we’ve committed to a rebate to the First Nations and the municipal governments,” he said, adding that there’s a “dollar for dollar” placer mining rebate.

“We are still waiting on some other information from the federal government. I wish that I could say right now that we had that information,” Silver said.

Hassard threw barbs at Liberal leadership, saying that the party has no plan or vision.

“I think the lack of leadership is starting to show,” he said.

Hassard said a recent engagement survey, which shows opinions the Executive Council Office has of the government, is proof of floundering leadership.

The survey, which is publicly available, shows that 49 per cent of ECO members have confidence in senior leadership.

“That’s a bit indicative of the way things are going with this government, and it’s very similar in the legislature and the lack of answers we’re getting,” Hassard said.

The Electoral District Boundaries Act was defeated this week, with all Liberal MLAs voting against it. One reason for the move was that the concept of a 20th riding did not carry over into the final report compiled by an independent commission.

Darren Parsons, a member of the Yukon Electoral District Boundaries Commission, tasked with making recommendations on electoral reform, blasted the government, telling the News the decision was incompetent and an attack on the non-partisan body.

During a press briefing on Nov. 22, Silver said that Parsons is entitled to his opinion.

Capacity issues at Whitehorse elementary schools were frequently raised during question period. The News reported a series of stories that delved into problems at Golden Horn Elementary School — at 98 per cent capacity — which has hosted small learning groups in boiler room closets and in a hallway.

Golden Horn has the highest concentration of students out of 10 others that are nearing 100 per cent capacity.

A tender for one portable was reportedly put out this month. It doesn’t appear to be public and it’s unclear where it will go.

The NDP will eventually be on the lookout for a new leader, as Liz Hanson officially announced on Nov. 21 that she’s stepping down from the post, a position she’s held since 2009.

On the final day of the fall sitting, Hanson told reporters that she’s resigning in order to prime the party for the next election.

She will remain third party leader until a successor is found. So, too, will Hanson continue to be the MLA for Whitehorse-Centre, a title she’s held since 2010.

Hanson called the Liberal government “pretty status quo.”

“That’s their approach: ‘We’re not going to rock the boat on almost anything,’” she said, adding that during the Liberal’s campaign, the party said it was going to listen to Yukoners.

That the Liberal government defeated its own bill concerning electoral reform, Hanson said, which would have allowed for rural and urban voting parity, damages its credibility, adding that it should cause the party pause for not accepting recommendations from a non-partisan commission.

Contact Julien Gignac at julien.gignac@yukon-news.com

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

Just Posted

Whitehorse and Carcross will be among seven northern communities to have unlimited internet options beginning Dec. 1. (Yukon News file)
Unlimited internet for some available Dec. 1

Whitehorse and Carcross will be among seven northern communities to have unlimited… Continue reading

Willow Brewster, a paramedic helping in the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre, holds a swab used for the COVID-19 test moments before conducting a test with it on Nov. 24. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
An inside look at the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre

As the active COVID-19 case count grew last week, so too did… Continue reading

Conservation officers search for a black bear in the Riverdale area in Whitehorse on Sept. 17. The Department of Environment intends to purchase 20 semi-automatic AR-10 rifles, despite the inclusion of the weapons in a recently released ban introduced by the federal government, for peace officers, such as conservation officers. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Environment Minister defends purchase of AR-10 rifles for conservation officers

The federal list of banned firearms includes an exception for peace officers

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: The K-shaped economic recovery and what Yukoners can do about it

It looks like COVID-19 will play the role of Grinch this holiday… Continue reading

Fossil finds at Mt. Stephen. (Photo: Sarah Fuller/Parks Canada)
Extreme hiking, time travel and science converge in the Burgess Shale

Climb high in the alpine and trace your family tree back millions of years – to our ocean ancestors

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Mask fundraiser helps make children’s wishes come true

From Black Press Media + BraveFace – adult, youth and kid masks support Make-A-Wish Foundation

Colin McDowell, the director of land management for the Yukon government, pulls lottery tickets at random during a Whistle Bend property lottery in Whitehorse on Sept. 9, 2019. A large amount of lots are becoming available via lottery in Whistle Bend as the neighbourhood enters phase five of development. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Lottery for more than 250 new Whistle Bend lots planned for January 2021

Eight commercial lots are being tendered in additional to residential plots

The Government of Yukon Main Administration Building in Whitehorse on Aug. 21. The Canada Border Services Agency announced Nov. 26 that they have laid charges against six people, including one Government of Yukon employee, connected to immigration fraud that involved forged Yukon government documents. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Charges laid in immigration fraud scheme, warrant out for former Yukon government employee

Permanent residency applications were submitted with fake Yukon government documents

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Karen Wenkebach has been appointed as a judge for the Yukon Supreme Court. (Yukon News file)
New justice appointed

Karen Wenckebach has been appointed as a judge for the Supreme Court… Continue reading

Catherine Constable, the city’s manager of legislative services, speaks at a council and senior management (CASM) meeting about CASM policy in Whitehorse on June 13, 2019. Constable highlighted research showing many municipalities require a lengthy notice period before a delegate can be added to the agenda of a council meeting. Under the current Whitehorse procedures bylaw, residents wanting to register as delegates are asked to do so by 11 a.m. on the Friday ahead of the council meeting. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Changes continue to be contemplated for procedures bylaw

Registration deadline may be altered for delegates

Cody Pederson of the CA Storm walks around LJ’s Sabres player Clay Plume during the ‘A’ division final of the 2019 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament. The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28 in Whitehorse next year, was officially cancelled on Nov. 24 in a press release from organizers. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament cancelled

The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28… Continue reading

Most Read