Over the course of this summer and fall, the Yukon Liberal government hid from accountability and refused to allow democratic oversight of their actions. They refused to allow the Legislature, to sit and refused to allow Committees to discuss issues or ministerial orders related to the pandemic.
The result of this was a government that operated in secrecy while undermining the basic principles of democracy. At the same time the Yukon Liberals were refusing to allow for democratic oversight, legislatures in almost every other province and territory in Canada sat during the pandemic.
The current wording of the Civil Emergency Measures Act (CEMA) means that as soon as the fall 2020 sitting of the Legislature concludes, the Liberals will once again be able to use sweeping emergency powers while avoiding democratic oversight.
On November 30, the Yukon Party Official Opposition will table legislation that proposes a constructive solution - amending CEMA to require democratic oversight of government during an extended emergency, like the one we are in today. The amendments will:
- provide the Yukon Legislative Assembly with oversight and control over the extension of a State of Emergency;
- require 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; and
- empower committees of the Legislative Assembly to conduct public hearings on regulations and ministerial orders under the Civil Emergency Measures Act.
“We are proposing an approach that seeks to improve democracy in the Yukon now, and for the future,” said Brad Cathers, Official Opposition Critic for Democratic Institutions. “During the pandemic, the Liberals dramatically increased spending, launched new unbudgeted programs, issued sweeping ministerial orders that allowed the government to ignore the existing law, and possibly even infringed on Charter and constitutional rights – all without any democratic scrutiny. Our proposed amendment to the Civil Emergency Measures Act is a constructive solution to strengthen democratic oversight.”