Premier fires back at 'desperate' Yukon Party, after surviving confidence vote

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Premier Sandy Silver's minority government could have fallen this week, as the opposition Yukon Party tabled a non-confidence motion. The NDP, however, sided with the government. (Vincent Bonnay/Radio-Canada - image credit)
Premier Sandy Silver's minority government could have fallen this week, as the opposition Yukon Party tabled a non-confidence motion. The NDP, however, sided with the government. (Vincent Bonnay/Radio-Canada - image credit)

His minority government could have fallen this week, but according to Yukon Premier Sandy Silver it's the Official Opposition that's floundering.

On Wednesday, MLAs voted down a motion of non-confidence tabled by opposition leader Currie Dixon. The motion would have needed the support of Kate White's NDP in order to topple the government, but White wouldn't go along.

Speaking on Thursday morning, a sanguine Silver took a few shots at his chief opponent.

"I think these are the actions of a desperate man," he said, referring to Dixon's failed non-confidence motion.

Silver cited the newly-registered Yukon Freedom Party — launched by former People's Party of Canada candidate Joseph Zelezny — as having Dixon's conservative-leaning Yukon Party on the run.

"I think the least-confident leader in the Legislative Assembly right now is the leader of the Yukon Party," Silver said.

In the lead-up to Wednesday's vote, Dixon described his non-confidence motion as an unfortunate but necessary duty for him as opposition leader. He said Silver's government was failing on several fronts, but that his main concern was the Hidden Valley school sexual abuse case and the need for a public inquiry.

Bringing down Silver's government would allow the Yukon Party to take over and call that inquiry, he argued. He also said an election would be unnecessary if the NDP would agree to prop up his own minority government in exchange for policy concessions.

"It was worth it, to make a serious offer and a serious compromise," Dixon said of his overtures to the NDP.

'I can't see ... that they really achieved much'

Floyd McCormick, former clerk of the Yukon Legislative Assembly, has been watching closely and he admitted bafflement at Dixon's gambit.

"I can't see, from the Yukon Party perspective, that they really achieved much today," he said just after Wednesday's vote on the motion.

McCormick said such motions of non-confidence are rare in the legislative assembly for a reason — they're mostly pointless unless they pass.

Claudiane Samson/Radio-Canada
Claudiane Samson/Radio-Canada

"[The Yukon Party] should have known ... or should have had an idea before they brought the motion forward that the NDP was not going to support it. And so you have to wonder, well, what what's the rationale for doing that if you're not going to win now?" McCormick said.

"I don't know that this is an issue that the Yukon Party is going to be able to revisit."

Dixon spoke for just a few minutes on Wednesday as he tabled the motion, and no other Yukon Party MLAs rose to speak on it.

Several Liberal MLAs, however — including John Streicker, Nils Clarke, Jeanie McLean, Ranj Pillai, Richard Mostyn and Silver — took the opportunity to speak at great length about their government's accomplishments. Streicker spoke for close to an hour.

White effectively had the last word, and her comments were scathing. She blasted the Yukon Party for using the Hidden Valley case for "political games," and for trying to manipulate her to their advantage.

She also had harsh words for the Liberals, saying Silver's government has made "serious mistakes" with the Hidden Valley case and other issues, and must do more, and do better.

She also suggested the "rules have been re-drawn" for the Liberals.

Speaking on Thursday, Silver said he would keep working with the NDP under the terms of their agreement they signed last spring, but would also talk with White about whether that agreement was "a flexible document."

He also said he was open to calling a public inquiry into the Hidden Valley case — something the NDP has also called for — but would wait to decide until the current investigations are complete.

"Nothing's off the table once the reviews come in," Silver said.

"But at the same time, we will do what the two other opposition parties don't do, which is to wait for that evidence."

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