Yukon Party leader Currie Dixon photographed on the 2021 campaign trail on April 8. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News file)

Yukon Party leader Currie Dixon photographed on the 2021 campaign trail on April 8. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News file)

Yukon Party plans confidence vote over the government’s handling of the Hidden Valley file

The balance of power sits with the NDP, but it is unlikely they will break their agreement

The official opposition intends to test the strength of the agreement between the NDP and the Liberals this week in the legislature.

Yukon Party leader Currie Dixon said he plans to table a confidence motion on Nov. 22, which would come up for debate and a vote in the House on Nov. 24.

He said the party is troubled by the government’s actions on the Hidden Valley file and doesn’t have faith in the independent review. He also noted that former education minister Tracy-Anne McPhee has remained in cabinet, despite an Oct. 29 vote where the majority of MLAs ask that she step down.

“This Liberal government has demonstrated that they view the clearly expressed will of the Yukon Legislative Assembly as meaningless and something to be ignored,” said Dixon, in an email.

“Not only have the Liberals ignored the legislature, but they also continue to ignore parents and families from the Hidden Valley School community who continue to be frustrated by the ongoing refusal of the Liberal government to answer basic questions or provide information about what happened,” he added.

In most votes in the legislature, if the government doesn’t secure the majority, the motion up for debate fails. But if the government loses the vote on a specifically-worded confidence vote that means they have lost the confidence of the house.

If the Liberals lose a confidence vote that means they no longer have the authority in the legislature and the government must dissolve.

This would ordinarily trigger an election – unless the commissioner grants the opposition a chance to form a government if they can make the case that a stable alternative of MLAs will vote in their favour.

Right now the house sits at seven Liberal votes, three NDP votes, eight Yukon Party votes and a Liberal speaker. In order to secure his government, Premier Sandy Silver signed a Confidence and Supply Agreement with NDP leader Kate White in April, securing confidence votes in exchange for specific policy actions.

That decision left Dixon and the Yukon Party in the cold, but the party leader made White an offer this week: if the NDP voted to bring down the government, the Yukon Party would be willing to form a government with them instead and continue to honour the CASA agreement.

The NDP holds the balance of power. If they put their weight behind the Yukon Party instead of the Liberal Party, Dixon could become premier instead of Silver with no need to go back to the polls – if he had the blessing of Commissioner Angélique Bernard.

The Liberals’ position as a minority government makes them vulnerable to a confidence vote. But that is unlikely to happen on Wednesday.

NDP leader Kate White has already confirmed that she won’t be taking Dixon up on his offer. She said the government needs to focus on health care, housing, addictions and education.

On Nov. 22, she said that Dixon’s offer “does not help solve any of these issues, but rather advanced his own personal interest.”

“As the Leader of the Yukon NDP, I have committed to providing confidence to the Liberal government until the end of our agreement. I will not be breaking this commitment,” she said.

Earlier in the sitting, when asked if she would consider breaking the CASA agreement over the Hidden Valley issue, White said she feels strongly about the situation, but also feels the commitments in the CASA are too important to abandon.

The agreement lasts until Jan. 31, 2023.

Contact Haley Ritchie at haley.ritchie@yukon-news.com

Yukon legislative assembly