Question re: Economic growth - November 10, 2015

Mr. Silver: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. This spring the Premier delivered a speech at the Conservative think-tank, the 2015 Manning Networking Conference. Those who watched it on YouTube heard the Premier talk about his goal of making Yukon a net contributor to Canada.

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Question re: Yukon College - November 9, 2015

Mr. Silver: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have a number of questions for the Minister of Education about Yukon College. I would like to start with the future of the endowment lands that have been identified for many years. This is an almost 100-hectare piece of land that surrounds the current campus.

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Question re: Peel watershed land use plan - November 5, 2015

Mr. Silver: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, three court of appeal judges ruled that this Yukon Party’s government failed to honour the letter and the spirit in its treaty obligations in the Peel land use planning process. In legal circles, Mr. Speaker, I believe this is referred to as a “slap down”.

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Question re: Peel watershed land use plan - November 4, 2015

Mr. Silver: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The Yukon Party government was dealt another major setback today with the latest Peel land use court decision. The government is 0 in 2 in court, having lost the original trial and now the appeal as well. Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent on communication plans and Outside lawyers from Vancouver and Toronto. The trust level between this government and First Nation governments has been eroded significantly.

Many, many Yukoners and people of the public have seen their views on this subject ignored and the long court battle has had a significant negative impact on our economy and has now led to the third straight year of decline of our economy. It could have all been avoided, Mr. Speaker, if the Yukon Party had simply respected the planning process and used the road map that was outlined by the Umbrella Final Agreement.

Mr. Speaker, does the Premier take any responsibility for the long-term negative impacts that his actions have caused?

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Question re: Local Hire - November 3, 2015

Mr. Silver: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. The government’s economic forecast released on October 20 confirmed that Yukon’s economy will shrink for a third year in a row, all under this Yukon Party government.

One of the reasons for the downturn is this government’s habit of handing out major construction contracts to companies from outside of Yukon. For example, the government went out of its way to ensure that local companies could not win the contract for F.H. Collins school.

I have asked several questions about this trend in the last two years, and in early June, the Yukon Contractors Association also added their voice and criticism to this government. Here’s a quote: “The Yukon Government's reliance on outside contractors for its large projects has forced Yukon companies to lay off workers this season because it's so slow…” That was from the president of the Yukon Contractors Association. He mentioned that the new continuing care was another example — and I quote again: “‘We're not in boom times right now... There's a lot of [Yukon] contractors looking for work, and they're not able to participate in these larger contracts.’”

Why is this government designing contracts —

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Question re: Mining regulatory uncertainty - November 2, 2015

Mr. Silver: Mr. Speaker, before the session began, the Premier said the government has mostly completed its platform commitments and should be congratulated on a job well done. When he was asked what was left to do in the next year, his response was, “Not a lot.”

When your corporate tax revenues have dropped by 50 percent in just two years, I would argue that there is a lot of work left to do on our economy. The private sector is shrinking and paying less tax.

The Yukon Party platform made a number of promises about improving the mining permitting process in the Yukon and unfortunately has made little progress on achieving any of them. Its botched attempt to improve YESAA has resulted in a lawsuit and other initiatives only began at the tail end of the mandate, as the government coasted on high mineral prices instead of fixing the problems that we already knew existed. The government was well-aware, for example, of regulatory overlap when it comes to mining permitting. Why has it waited until the last year of its mandate to do something about this?

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Question re: Mineral development strategy - October 29, 2015

Mr. Silver: Mr. Speaker, after spending the initial part of their mandate coasting on high mineral prices, the Yukon Party government decided last fall to do something that might actually improve the mining industry. In mid-November 2014, the government announced plans for a mineral development strategy.

Now, with our economy shrinking for the third year in a row under this government’s watch, that’s a very good idea. A news release at the time said — and I quote: “The strategy, which will be complete in a year …”

We are only a few weeks away from the government’s own timeline and it is obvious that this will not be met. Public consultations were supposed to have begun in August and they haven’t materialized.

Mr. Speaker, why is the mineral development strategy not ready on time, as promised by this government?

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Question re: Economic outlook - October 28, 2015

Mr. Silver: I have a question for the Premier. For many years the Yukon Party insisted that the upturn in our economy was due to its great management of our territory. The Yukon Party was very good at taking credit during the good times, but they have been unwilling, however, to accept blame for the current economic slowdown we’re in.

A report in the spring confirmed our economic growth has stalled under this government. For a second year in a row, our economy actually shrunk. In 2014, it shrunk by 1.2 percent. The Yukon usually releases an updated economic forecast in the summer. Instead, this year, on October 20, as Yukoners were taking in the results of the federal election, the government’s own forecast was finally released. It said our GDP is expected to contract for a third year — a third consecutive year — decreasing by six percent.

Will the Premier confirm that the Yukon is the only place in Canada where the economy will shrink for a third year in a row?

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Question re: Bill S-6 - October 27, 2015

Mr. Silver: I have more questions for the Premier on Bill S-6.

When the Legislature began sitting last week the Premier was asked about the fate of the four amendments to the bill that he has spent two years championing. Last Thursday he continued to back them here on the floor of the House, and he said that he wanted to meet with the First Nation chiefs to discuss implementing them. Over the weekend, the Premier changed his mind on the four amendments and said here yesterday that his government would not be a barrier to the federal government repealing the amendments.

After two years of backing the federal government against the wishes of Yukon First Nations, the Premier finally went back and admitted that the best thing to do for his government at this point was to simply stay out of the way.

Does the Premier accept any responsibility for the negative impacts that this entire episode has had on our economy and with relationships with Yukon’s First Nations?

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Question re: YESAA process - October 26, 2015

Mr. Silver: I have a question for the Premier. For the last two years, the Government of Yukon worked hand in hand with the former Conservative government in Ottawa and our former Member of Parliament to pass S-6. A visit to the territory by Prime Minister Harper during the federal election campaign confirmed that the four problematic sections of the bill came from the Premier and the Yukon Party government.

Yukon First Nations are strongly opposed to these four sections and sued the Government of Canada over them. Despite the lawsuit, the Premier continued to back the federal government’s approach and even endorsed our former MP and his approach. The new federal government has vowed to repeal the four sections of the bill.

Will the Premier now support the new federal government’s decision to repeal these amendments?

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