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Mailbox: Rendezvous memories, accountability

Letters to the editor published Feb. 7

It’s time to be open and accountable to the taxpayer

In case you missed it, our country’s elected officials returned to the House of Commons last week as Parliament resumed and members wasted no time getting down to the business of the people.

Of the many matters before the 338 individuals representing Canadians from coast to coast to coast, several caught my attention.

There was of course the news that the Liberal government gave approximately $50 million of our tax dollars to Mastercard, a company that raked in $16 billion in 2019.

Yes, that is billion with a “B.”

Then there was word that the Liberals were to require the “free” press to first obtain a government license before being authorized to report the news.

And here I thought it was 2020, not 1984.

Speaking of all things Orwellian, last week also saw the Liberals continue to forge ahead with their plans to forcibly confiscate the private property of hundreds of thousands of licensed firearms owners.

This, despite both the City of Toronto and the RCMP Commissioner separately stating that banning guns from law-abiding Canadians will do nothing to stop the criminal use of firearms, coupled with the news that a petition opposing the Liberals’ anti-democratic plans for Canadians’ guns became the most supported e-petition in House of Commons history.

But of particular local interest, there was also an opposition motion passed which called for an audit of the Liberals’ $187 billion infrastructure fund.

Yes, again, billion with a “B.”

That’s a lot of money, but it would appear for all the talk of the investment the Liberals claim to have made in our public works, there is little yet to show for it.

You would think that all MPs, regardless of political stripe, would want to get to the bottom of this.

Yet the Liberals voted against the motion, including Yukon’s MP Larry Bagnell.

Why would he be opposed to asking the Auditor General to ensure our tax dollars are flowing in a timely and efficient manner, especially considering how crucial federal infrastructure investment is in a small jurisdiction like the Yukon?

Initiatives such as the planned Gateway Project would inject close to $250 million of federal money into our economy, and bring massive benefits for our territory and those Yukoners employed during its construction.

But beyond a mere $17 million announced last month with no timeline attached, two and a half years later the real money has yet to materialize, and the Liberals’ earlier attempts to blame the delay on previous administrations or First Nations’ capacity challenges lost any semblance of legitimacy when they won the 2019 election.

Remember that the Liberals campaigned they are “open and accountable” by default.

It’s time to be open and accountable to the taxpayer, something Mr. Bagnell apparently voted against.

Jonas J. Smith


Rendezvous memories

Happy 2020 Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous to all Yukoners.

I have many fond memories of the Rendezvous from 1969 on, when the activities were centered on Main Street, the bars were humming, plane loads of revellers came up to Whitehorse, the Can-Can girls performed many times per night and line ups to get into a Gillian Campbell performance were legendary, as was she.

Oldtimers will remember the subsequent gold rushes which occurred after the Klondike strike, a notable one happening in the ’70s and the ’80s.

The territory was functioning at a feverish pace from breakup to cleanup with a steady stream of miners and tourists packing the highways and airspace. There were new fortunes made (along with many lost) and shows like the Frantic Follies performed to packed houses.

Gillian Campbell was a huge part of this, from her first performance at the Palace Grand in Dawson City (1967), proceeding on to countless shows for the Rendezvous and The Follies. She travelled to five countries outside of Canada, promoting the Yukon wherever she went.

It would be lovely if the new McBride Museum would acknowledge the subsequent Yukon gold rush history and at the same time, give credit to Gillian Campbell for her role in promoting the old mystique along with creating the new.

Her donation of 32 complete spectacular costumes, designed and produced by the incomparable Ray Buchanan (who should be mentioned in the credit), is a treasure of the “soon-to-be” past.

The write-up on one of the costumes displayed last summer read: “This dress belonged to Gillian Campbell, a well known Klondike Kate impersonator who performed in Dawson City”. Perhaps this should read “This dress was worn by Gillian Campbell, the Yukon’s reigning leading lady for 50 years, who performed in the tradition of Klondike Kate.” (Many thanks to Grant Simpson for these words)

There is going to be a competition this 2020 Rendezvous, to replace Gillian Campbell as the Rendezvous headliner. I would suggest that Gillian Campbell has earned her own niche in Yukon history.

For over five decades, she has been a wonderful and effective ambassador for the Yukon and her replacement in the old tradition and the new one, will be a hard act to follow, particularly in a territory which is moving away from its gold rush history.

Memories will endure and hopefully the McBride Museum and the Dawson City Museum will both be at the forefront or preserving and promoting “The Magic and the Mystery.” (Which is still the best slogan, ever.)

Judy Derosier