Question re: Yukon Party Fundraiser in Vancouver - March 25, 2014

Mr. Silver:   Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Premier. Earlier this year, the Premier and three of his ministers travelled to Vancouver to attend the mineral Roundup.  At least that’s what they told the public.

Also on the agenda was a Yukon Party fundraiser with a gourmet dinner and scenic cruise on the yacht called the Pride of Vancouver at $300 per ticket.  The audience for the event was the mining industry. Mr. Speaker, Yukon’s mining industry is in a slump.  Even the Premier has admitted that himself. The purpose of the trip to Vancouver was to promote the Yukon as a place to do business, not to promote the Yukon Party.

Mr. Speaker, why did the Premier participate in this fundraising event instead of spending time promoting the Yukon?

Hon. Mr. Pasloski:     Certainly, I and all of the ministers who were involved, again, were at the mineral Roundup as we have been every year — me, the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources, the Minister of Economic Development and the Environment, and Minister of Highways and Public Works. We were there. As we do every year, we promote and really celebrate the work of the Geological Survey that gets done. It certainly is renowned across this country and everyone looks forward to their results every year. 

Mr. Speaker, we take that opportunity to ensure that we’re meeting with those companies that are doing business in our territory to ensure that we keep those lines of communication open. But we’re also continuing to focus on promoting this as a very strong investment opportunity for people to invest in both the exploration industry and in the extraction industry as well, Mr. Speaker.

This is what we have done this year. We were at Cambridge House this year doing the same thing, and the ministers of Energy, Mines and Resources, Economic Development and Environment and I were also at the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada, PDAC, in Toronto where, again, we were out talking not only to the investors, but to the large investment companies that are focusing their energies. Mr. Speaker, we’ve done that in the past and we’ll continue to do that.

Mr. Silver:   Mr. Speaker, the Premier and his ministers were travelling on the taxpayers’ dollar. They were supposed to be spending their time working on behalf of Yukoners, not raising money for their re-election fund. Now if the Premier doesn’t see a problem with that, we have a bigger problem.

Guests were promised live music, hospitality and an exclusive opportunity to connect with the Premier and his ministers, according to the poster promoting this $300 yacht ride around the Vancouver harbour. Does the Premier think that Yukon taxpayers should fly him to Vancouver so that he could raise money for his re-election fund?

Hon. Mr. Pasloski:     As I have mentioned, there is a tremendous amount of work that goes into the mineral Roundup as there is for PDAC or Cambridge House. The days are long, they begin early, they go well into the night, and I would commend not only the ministers but their staff for the hard work that they do.

We are not on 24/7 and there is an opportunity for personal time when we are in Vancouver, and that, Mr. Speaker, is not unheard of at all. I think that upon reflection — and we are looking forward to one of the motions that we had in the last session and that was the posting of ministerial travel, where we will be confidently showing there was no expense billed to the government as a result of anything that ministers did on their own personal time.

Mr. Silver:   I suspect that many people in the gallery today would like an exclusive opportunity to connect with the Premier to talk about issues like, for example, the Peel watershed. They shouldn’t have to travel to Vancouver and donate $300 to the Yukon Party to get that opportunity.

This yacht ride around the harbour shows the people the true colours of the government and demonstrates who has their ear and who does not.

Our exploration industry is in a tailspin. The Premier and his ministers were supposed to be spending their time trying to reverse this trend. Instead, they spent their time flogging tickets to this exclusive event and floating around the harbour in a yacht, raising money for their re-election.

Mr. Speaker, why did the Premier put financing his re-election campaign ahead of promoting the Yukon’s mining industry?

Hon. Mr. Pasloski:     I am, and every member of Cabinet, and all members of this caucus are very proud of the accessibility we have to Yukoners at all times. There is not a day that goes by that there are not people who are coming in and meeting with members of our caucus or members of our government. That occurs on a daily basis, whether it’s in our offices or out in other people’s — meeting at an agreed-upon place or at somebody’s business. This goes on every day.

This government has its ear to the ground. We have listened to Yukoners and that, simply put, is the reason why we are standing here as the government. We have listened to what Yukoners have said. The good news is that we listened to them and put forward a platform and we’re delivering on that platform. That’s what’s important to Yukoners.