Yukon's Liberal minority gov't was put to the test this spring. How did it work?

·3 min read
Yukon's Legislative Assembly on May 11. The Liberal government's confidence and supply agreement with the NDP featured prominently during the spring sitting. (Wayne Vallevand/ CBC - image credit)
Yukon's Legislative Assembly on May 11. The Liberal government's confidence and supply agreement with the NDP featured prominently during the spring sitting. (Wayne Vallevand/ CBC - image credit)

The first sitting of the newly elected Yukon Legislative Assembly centred on big trade-offs included in the confidence and supply agreement between the Liberal government and NDP.

It's best to start with the territorial budget, which passed Monday. Lacking a majority, the Liberal government needed the NDP to put its weight behind the budget and vote yay. And the NDP did, unanimously.

This meant certain compromises. For starters, the budget reflects NDP commitments made during the campaign trail — money is earmarked for the development of a safe drug supply and supervised consumption program, along with a public dental plan.

There are other trade-offs, perhaps most noteworthy, the one per cent rent cap which took effect last month.

Continue reading the confidence and supply agreement and you'll land on a shared priority — mining reform. The parties committed to develop and implement new mining legislation by early 2023, subject to negotiations with First Nations.

These are big issues to wade into and all of them surfaced during the sitting. The agreement touches on each. So, how did it go?

"So far so good," Premier Sandy Silver told reporters after question period Monday. "We'll continue to make sure that we move forward on the agreement pieces, because there is a lot of work to do this summer."

Silver said the passage of the budget is proof the agreement is working.

"Yukoners definitely sent us a clear message that all members of the Legislative Assembly need to work together for the benefit of the territory, and that is what my colleagues and I have committed to doing," he said.

NDP Leader Kate White appeared a little more forthcoming about the parameters of the agreement. She said it's unrealistic to assume both parties have "carbon copy ideals." While there are differences of opinion, White said she's confident the agreement will hold up.

"It's like any relationship. It requires work, and it doesn't always mean you smile at the end of meetings, but both the NDP and the Liberals are committed to working together."

White said there's a conflict resolution component to the agreement.

"There's no ability for someone just to throw their hands up and say, 'I quit,'" she said. "We have to go through certain steps before we get to that point, and part of that is to ensure cooler heads prevail."

The Yukon Party pounced on the agreement during the sitting. Leader Currie Dixon said doing so was a no-brainer.

"The implementation of that agreement has been driving the government's agenda for the last number of weeks, since the election," said Dixon. "We've done our best to ask questions about the aspects of that agreement and how it's going to affect public policy."

The spring sitting ran a short 11 days.

Dixon said this wasn't nearly enough time to wage debate — on the budget alone.

"That's disappointing, of course," he said.

"If the premier doesn't like being in the Legislative Assembly, I think it's likely because his ministers are so unable to answer basic questions, and that's shone through this sitting."

Silver clapped back, saying the budget was tabled twice and, with that, two opportunities for debate.

"It's always interesting that we hear they want time to debate the budget," he said. "[The Yukon Party] doesn't get into the details of the budget, the way the NDP would do their research."

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