Yukon legislature wrap-up: Yukoners ready for change after 14 years of Yukon Party government
The Yukon NDP Official Opposition is taking the Yukon Party government to task for its tired and out of touch agenda as the Yukon Legislative Assembly closes its doors for the last time before this year’s territorial election. Inside the legislature, Yukon NDP Leader Liz Hanson called for a fairer, more sustainable Yukon while holding the government to account for its failure to improve access to health care, grow Yukon’s economy and protect the environment.
“After 14 years of Yukon Party government, it is clear that Yukon is worse off than it was before,” said Hanson. “Yukoners are tired of a government that has no big ideas for our future.”
Over the course of its mandate, Premier Darrell Pasloski and the Yukon Party government have failed to mend fences with Yukon’s First Nation governments by choosing courtrooms over the negotiation table on issues like the Peel Watershed land use plan and the government’s unilateral amendments to Bill S-6. The Yukon NDP Official Opposition understands that respect is the key to a successful relationship with First Nation governments and a strong economic future for Yukon.
During the Yukon NDP Official Opposition’s annual spring communities tour, Yukoners told caucus members that the Yukon Party government has mismanaged the territory’s finances. Yukon’s economy shrank over the past three years, and Premier Pasloski’s assertion that the territory has no debt fails to account for over $187 million in debt held by the government’s Crown corporations. What’s more, the government’s forecasted surplus has evaporated from $80 million in 2012 to just over $1 million last year. The Yukon NDP Official Opposition will continue to support calls for a diversified Yukon economy that reflects emerging sectors including the knowledge economy, renewable energy and information technology.
Meanwhile, the Yukon Party government has thrown its weight behind introducing hydraulic fracturing – or “fracking” – to Yukon. The Yukon NDP Official Opposition continues to be the only voice in the Yukon legislature that is calling for a moratorium in light of strong opposition from Yukoners, Yukon First Nation governments and scientific experts.
Yukoners have also expressed frustration over health care problems like high wait times, a lack of community mental health services and the Yukon Party government’s stubborn refusal to consult people about its 300-bed Whistle Bend continuing care complex. Questions from Hanson and the Yukon NDP caucus forced the Yukon Party government to reveal that it does not have a firm sense of how much the complex will cost to build or operate and maintain – calculations that the government’s own rules require before a project can be approved.
This session, the Yukon NDP caucus put the capstone on its democratic reform legislation by tabling the Fairness in Political Contributions Act, which would have put more power over Yukon politics in the hands of ordinary Yukoners by outlawing donations from corporations, unions and non-Yukoners while capping eligible donors at an annual $1,500 limit. The Yukon Party used procedural tactics to stall the Act and ensure that they could continue to benefit from Yukon’s lax political donation rules.
“The Yukon Party government has put their friends before ordinary Yukoners, but we believe it’s time for a government that includes all Yukon citizens,” added Hanson. "Yukoners have told us that they want a positive vision for Yukon’s future.”