FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 9, 2022
WHITEHORSE – A Yukon Party Official Opposition bill providing more democratic oversight of the Civil Emergency Measures Act (CEMA) was blocked at second reading in the Yukon Legislative Assembly by the Liberal government with the support of their NDP coalition partners.
In response to concerns raised by MLAs in debate, the Yukon Party moved an amendment to refer the bill to the all-party Standing Committee on Statutory Instruments. Work by the Standing Committee would have enabled Yukoners and interested groups to provide feedback on the proposed changes, as well as better enable Yukon MLAs to make any necessary amendments to ensure it is effective.
Unfortunately, the Liberals rejected both the amendment and overall bill, insisting that they alone should oversee a review of the legislation. The NDP also rejected these principles of democratic oversight. This came after the NDP agreed to support the proposal earlier in the day – only to flip-flop when it came time to make a decision.
“This just shows the my-way-or-the-highway mentality of the Liberals,” said Lake Laberge MLA Brad Cathers who introduced the bill. “The Liberals have touted a spirit of collaboration during their time in office, but it seems when presented with ideas and a chance for collaboration, they refuse to engage. It’s unfortunate, as this process would have provided an opportunity for all MLAs to have a say when it comes to invoking such important legislation such as the Civil Emergency Measures Act.”
The proposed amendments would have:
- required that any declaration of a State of Emergency be debated by the Legislative Assembly within 7 days and be subject to a vote.
- provided the Yukon Legislative Assembly with control over the extension of a State of Emergency.
- required that any regulations and ministerial orders be subject to a mandatory review by the Legislative Assembly or a Committee of the Legislative Assembly within 45 days of being issued.
- empowered committees of the Legislative Assembly to conduct public hearings on regulations and ministerial orders under the Civil Emergency Measures Act.
- if the Speaker received a request from three MLAs, require that the Assembly debate a request to revoke a declaration of a State of Emergency; and
- required that a public inquiry be held after the declaration of a state of emergency. (This could be waived if three-quarters of MLAs agree.)