Yukon Party mum on advisor’s abrupt departure

Yule Schmidt is no longer an advisor to Yukon premier Darrell Pasloski, according to several sources familiar with the matter.

Yule Schmidt is no longer an advisor to Yukon premier Darrell Pasloski, according to several sources familiar with the matter.

Schmidt’s abrupt departure comes on the heels of two controversial newspaper articles she published recently, which the government says were not approved.

The cabinet office is keeping mum about the affair, saying that it doesn’t comment on personnel matters. Schmidt hasn’t responded to several interview requests.

Liberal Leader Sandy Silver said the premier needs to tell Yukoners what’s really going on. “If she was fired, why? The premier owes us an explanation,” he said.

The controversy began when Schmidt published an opinion piece in the National Post, arguing that an activist judicial system and litigious First Nations are to blame for the recent spate of lawsuits filed against the government.

The article was published at the onset of Toronto’s big mining conference, and Silver questioned whether it could further undermine the Yukon’s reputation as a legally safe place to do business.

“The courts have replaced the government’s paternalism with a form of their own,” Schmidt wrote.

“And its enshrinement in statutory law will make it particularly difficult to undo. As long as the honour of the Crown trumps the legal provisions of land claims, the Yukon government and its settled First Nations will continue disputing the meaning of their final agreements in court,” she wrote.

While the article carried a disclaimer that said the author’s views were not her employer’s, both Silver and Yukon NDP Leader Liz Hanson were quick to question whether this was true.

In response, Schmidt wrote a letter to the editor accusing Silver of either “misplaced chivalry” or “untimely chauvinism,” and said that her right to free speech extends to her job in the cabinet office.

“Perhaps it surprises the Liberal leader that I was able to freely express my thoughts without having them politically vetted, but last time I checked, that chunk of the Constitution that protects freedom of speech had not been deleted,” Schmidt wrote.

“I should think Mr. Silver and others in the opposition would find it comforting to know that a political staffer retains the independence to publish articles as I did. Is that not something we should commend as a society?” she wrote.

Hanson said she agrees with Schmidt’s defence of free speech. But she said she doesn’t find it surprising that a Yukon Party staffer’s employment would end shortly after publishing articles that could put her bosses in a particularly awkward position.

“If Ms. Schmidt is no longer there, where does the premier stand?” Hanson asked.

“His silence is telling. What about the views she has expressed does he find unacceptable?”

When reached by phone in Washington last week, Premier Darrell Pasloski dodged questions about Schmidt’s departure. Asked if Schmidt was still employed by his office, Pasloski at first suggested she could be on vacation and said that his Washington trip left him out of the loop. When pressed on the point, Pasloski said the government doesn’t comment on staffing decisions.

Cabinet spokeswoman Elaine Schiman said that the views Schmidt expressed in the National Post article do not reflect that of her employer, and that the government is supportive of the land claims process.

But Hanson said she thinks Schmidt’s piece is an accurate reflection of the Yukon Party’s views, as evidenced by its often antagonistic approach to dealing with the territory’s First Nations.

“The views that she expressed are exactly those of the Yukon Party. They’re going about it as though the status quo from pre-1993, before the final agreements were signed, is the way it stands. It’s not only wrong, it’s wrong-headed,” Hanson said.

She also expressed doubt that the Yukon Party never vetted Schmidt’s opinions, despite the party’s claim to the contrary.

“I just don’t buy the notion that something got out that was such a significant statement of Yukon Party belief that you wouldn’t have touched base with the fellow in charge? That’s not good leadership. The buck stops with the person in charge,” she said.

Contact Jesse Winter at

jessew@yukon-news.com

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

Just Posted

Wyatt's World for Oct. 28, 2020.
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for Oct. 28.… Continue reading

Yukon Child Care Board chair Amy Ryder says the board could be playing a bigger role in childcare policy making if they had more financial support from the Yukon government. (Submitted)
Yukon Child Care Board asks for larger role in annual report

The board is asking for a larger budget to increase outreach and advice

Yukon’s clocks will no longer change in March and November but will remain permanently on Pacific Daylight Saving Time. (Courtesy Yukon government)
Off the clock: Yukon prepares to end seasonal time changes

Starting on Nov. 1 Yukon will be one hour ahead of Vancouver and two hours ahead of Alaska

Dawson City as scene from West Dawson. Art Webster, the vice-chair of the Dawson Regional Planning Commission resigned last month over the Yukon governments unwillingness to pause speculative staking. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Vice-chair resigns from Dawson land-use planning commission

NDP warns that not pausing mining activity is the road to a second Peel decision

The opening ceremonies of the Canada Summer Games in Winnipeg on July 28, 2017. The 2021 Canada Summer Games have officially been rescheduled for Aug. 6 to 21, 2022, exactly one year from the date the national competition was originally set to take place in the Niagara region of Ontario. (Canada Summer Games/Flickr)
Canada Summer Games dates set for 2022 but uncertainty remains for Yukon athletes

Yukon athletes continue waiting to get back into schools

A proposed Official Community Plan amendment would designate a 56.3 hectare piece of land in Whistle Bend currently designated as green space, as urban residential use. Whitehorse city council passed first reading on a bylaw for the designation change at its Oct. 26 meeting, prompting an upcoming public hearing on Nov. 23 ahead of second reading on Dec. 7. (Courtesy City of Whitehorse)
Local contractors will be given an advantage on a contract for the design and construction services that will see a new reception building at Robert Service Campground decided city councillors during the Oct. 26 council meeting. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Local firms will get advantage on contract for new Robert Service Campground building

Yukon-based companies competing for contract for new reception building will receive 20 extra points

Fallen trees due to strong winds are seen leaning on to power lines which caused some power outages around the territory on Oct. 26. (Courtesy of ATCO)
Wind knocks out power around the Yukon

High winds on Oct. 26 knocked out power to Faro, parts of Whitehorse and beyond

The Yukon government is asking for all claims in a lawsuit over the Takhini elk herd be struck by the court. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)
Yukon government asks for Takhini elk lawsuit to be struck

The Yukon government is asking for all claims in a lawsuit over… Continue reading

The Yukon government has filed a reply to an outfitter’s petition challenging the reduction of its caribou quota to zero. (Yukon News file)
YG replies to outfitter’s legal challenge over caribou quota

The Yukon government has filed a reply to an outfitter’s petition challenging… Continue reading

The Yukon government is encouraging people to get the flu vaccine this year, saying that with COVID-19, it’s “more important than ever.” (Black Press file)
Get flu vaccine, Yukon government urges

The Yukon government is encouraging people to get the flu vaccine this… Continue reading

Benjamin Munn, 12, watches the HPV vaccine in 2013. Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine will be available to all Yukoners up to, and including, age 26. Currently the program is only available to girls ages nine to 18 and boys ages nine to 14. (Dan Bates/Black Press file)
HPV vaccine will be available to Yukoners up to, including, age 26

Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine will be available… Continue reading

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

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Most Read