Yukon ombudsman resigns

Tim Koepke, the territory's ombudsman and information and privacy commissioner, submitted his resignation this week.

Tim Koepke, the territory’s ombudsman and information and privacy commissioner, submitted his resignation this week.

The move came as Koepke submitted a report to the legislature on recommended changes to the operations of the office.

The position is a half-time position, divided between responsibilities as the ombudsman and as the information and privacy commissioner.

Past commissioners have lobbied for it to become a full-time position, arguing that the job is far too big to manage with only 20 hours a week.

Indeed, that was a key recommendation of the recent report, which was prepared by an outside consultant.

But Koepke isn’t interested in a full-time job, he said, so he decided to clear the way for that change to happen.

“Clearly, the evidence is that it should be a full-time position. I’m not interested in it, so the best way for me to basically encourage changes and recommendations to be implemented was to give notice of my departure.”

Another key recommendation of the report was to improve the relationship between the office and the government by establishing formal channels and protocols for communication between the two.

During the fall sitting of the legislature, the government pushed through changes to the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act against Koepke’s recommendations.

The government argued that the changes were in line with other jurisdictions. Koepke disagreed, saying in a report that the amendments were “substantial,” and some of the changes unprecedented. He recommended a full review of the act before implementing any changes.

But Koepke’s recent resignation “has absolutely nothing to do with the government’s reaction or non-reaction to our requested recommendations for the ATIPP act amendments back in the fall,” he said.

Politicians are elected by the people and have the authority to make decisions on legislation, and they are ultimately accountable to the people, he said. His role is simply to comment on the legislation.

MLA David Laxton, who chairs the board to which Koepke reports, expressed his dismay at the resignation.

“I am sorry to hear that Mr. Koepke is resigning,” he said in a press release. “Though he will not finish his term, I believe he has made a very valuable contribution to the office. The positive impact of his tenure will be felt for years to come.”

The member services board is not yet prepared to comment on the recommendations outlined in the report, said Laxton.

“I’m hoping that they will eventually endorse the recommendations and act on them,” said Koepke.

Koepke plans to leave the position on May 1.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

jronson@yukon-news.com