The Yukon Liberal Caucus is concerned about the Yukon Party moving forward with their efforts to gate-keep free speech in the Yukon Legislative Assembly.
“Ministerial statements are an important tool that keeps the government accountable to Yukoners,” said Premier Ranj Pillai, MLA for Porter Creek South. The Premier added that “communicating directly with Yukoners is a key responsibility of government, and Ministerial Statements are one of the few tools that government has to communicate directly with the public.”
The Yukon Party’s Motion respecting committee reports number 6 calls for the addition of a requirement that House Leaders agree upon the delivery of ministerial statements, which would have a serious impact on the Yukon government’s ability to communicate openly and publicly with Yukoners about issues of importance.
In 2023 alone, the Yukon Government has used Ministerial Statements to inform Yukoners about a variety of important subjects, including:
- Missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit+ strategy
- The National Plan to End Gender-Based Violence
- Sexual orientation and gender identity policy in education
- The Missing Persons Act and regulation
- The Cannabis Control and Regulation Act five-year review
- Wildland Fire management
- The Yukon Employees’ Union collective agreement
- Children who went missing from Yukon residential schools
- 5th Avenue and Rogers Street lot development
- The Canada-Yukon Nature Agreement
- Car 867
- McIntyre Creek Park
- Climate change and Our Clean Future
- Community infrastructure projects
- First Nation School Board funding agreement
- Frances Avenue lot development
- Gender-affirming health care
- Housing initiatives fund
- Minto mine closure and remediation
- Government-funded paid sick leave
- The 50th anniversary of Together Today for our Children Tomorrow
- Long term care rooms at the Watson Lake Community Hospital
- Wildfire and flood preparedness
- Yukon Forum; and
- The Yukon seniors income supplement, among others.
Noting that the ability to deliver Ministerial Statements without opposition permission is enshrined in the Standing Orders of nearly every other legislature in Canada, the Yukon Liberal Caucus is asking the Yukon Party which of these statements Yukon Party MLA Brad Cathers have allowed to be delivered, and which topics he and party leader Currie Dixon would have prohibited from being discussed in the Legislative Assembly. The public also have the right to know why certain information should be kept from them and how the Yukon Party Caucus can justify using taxpayer dollars to fund their efforts to reduce the amount of information available to Yukoners.
The 8th Report of the Standing Committee on Rules, Elections and Privileges, on which the opposition parties enjoy a majority, demands:
THAT the Standing Orders of the Yukon Legislative Assembly be amended by adding the following new standing order:
“11(3.3) Prior to recognizing a Minister or Cabinet Commissioner on the Ministerial Statement, the Speaker must be satisfied that the Government House Leader and at least one House Leader in a party in opposition to the government are in agreement that the Ministerial Statement should be delivered that day.”
“We know that the Yukon Party doesn’t view communicating with the public as a key function of government. When they were in government, they rarely spoke to media. It’s unfortunate that the Yukon Party is choosing to be in opposition as they governed: shrouded in secrecy, distrustful of public opinion, and gatekeeping information,” concluded Premier Pillai.