From cats to cuts to consultations
Mike Thomas/Yukon News
You know it’s going to be quite the ride when the week begins with cats gone crazy in Beaver Creek and ends with the country’s largest public sector union using a giant squirrel to target federal job cuts.
Sandwiched in between: a myriad of seemingly unrelated events, most flowing from the work of those we ostensibly elected not all that long ago.
As Prime Minister Stephen Harper is wont to do when he needs some positive press, he flew north to ride a snowmachine and to scatter a few extra shillings towards adult education. But mostly to ride a snow machine.
While he was photographed roaring across the stark white Nunavut landscape, his Yukon foot soldiers were busy on the ground in Whitehorse, relaying the message to the local media at Yukon College.
Even though we all know that governments using our tax dollars to educate us shouldn’t qualify as big news, in these heavily media-managed times, Harper’s northern junkets never fail to garner attention and his handlers know it.
Meanwhile, his colleagues in this territory’s towers of power were kept hopping on two fronts - oil and gas development in the Whitehorse Basin and the future of the Peel watershed.
It may or may not have just been a coincidence that the two highly contentious issues landed in the public’s lap at the same time.
Regardless, both seem to have a struck a nerve, if the flood of angry letters to the newspapers is any indication.
The writers are angry the Yukon Party government has turned its back on a plan for the Peel region, seven years and more than $1 million in the making.
They’re angry the ruling party didn’t spell its Peel principles out during the recent territorial election. They’re angry the consultation process has been exposed as a bit of a sham.
And there’s also fear.
Fear that if the government didn’t listen to concerns about the Peel, it may not listen to concerns about oil and gas development in the Whitehorse region.
Fear of fracking, a process used to extract gas from the ground, never before used in the territory.
And fear the Yukon just may end up like Alberta if it doesn’t proceed with caution.
So far, Yukon Premier Darrell Pasloski, et al, have been lying low on both these fronts.
It’s a good strategy.
By the time people recover from Rendezvous, followed shortly thereafter by an action-packed week of the Arctic Winter Games, the news will be full of the fallout from pending federal budget cuts.
It’ll likely be late March before Yukon MLAs finally get back to work in the legislature to debate the territory’s most pressing issues.
A month is a long time in politics, but probably not long enough.
When the honeymoon is over, the honeymoon is over.