Darrell Pasloski vowed to run an open and accountable government while he ran for the Yukon Party leadership. Now that he’s won, it’s time for him to live up to his word, says Liberal Leader Arthur Mitchell.
“Otherwise, what we really have is a new CEO at the head of an old board of directors,” said Mitchell.
His first piece of unsolicited advice is to provide an update of the territory’s finances. February’s budget anticipated an $18-million surplus by next spring, but “it’s out of date at this point,” said Mitchell.
That’s particularly so, following the disclosure that the territory has, for several years, sat on $17.5 million in federal money earmarked for affordable housing. That makes up “virtually all” of the surplus, said Mitchell.
It should be spent soon to help fight Whitehorse’s housing shortage, said Mitchell.
“The government has basically sat on this money for five years to, theoretically, balance the books, while people have gone without adequate housing.”
Pasloski ought to call a special sitting of the legislature, so that MLAs could debate how to spend this money, said Mitchell. “We want a good debate, not another closed-door decision from the corner office.”
And Pasloski ought to also release a thick stack of documents that outline the government’s case for considering the sell-off of Yukon Energy’s assets to Alberta-based ATCO. These papers, prepared by consultants, cost taxpayers $275,000. So far, the government’s refused to release them.
“There’s never been a reason provided as to why we could not see that, other than the premier saying, ‘All the documents you need to have, you’ve seen,’” said Mitchell.
“That was the last premier. We want to see if the new premier is different.”
Pasloski would only say that he’s too busy to entertain Mitchell’s requests.
“Right now I’m 100 per cent focused on the transition,” he said.
“But, to steal a line from Rod Taylor, we don’t have a monopoly on ideas.”
Taylor, Pasloski’s chief rival during the leadership race, touted himself as a centrist who would help lure voters away from the Liberals in the coming territorial election.
Mitchell, meanwhile, cautioned that Pasloski’s leadership indicates a rightward swing for the Yukon Party. “We all heard on the radio people saying, ‘He’s a real conservative,’” said Mitchell.
“It’s pretty obvious from the results on Saturday that moderates aren’t welcome in the Yukon Party. They’re tolerated, but not necessarily welcomed.”
Contact John Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org.