• Billy Beringia

Premier pressured to promote money-waste

WHITEHORSE - Following a single Teddy Award for wasteful spending from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, Yukon politicians are asking why they didn't win more.

The 2020 Teddy Awards ceremony, Parliament Hill (Photo by Canadian Taxpayer Federation)


It should have been cause for celebration. Instead, winning a national award has led to infighting and bickering in the Yukon Legislative Assembly.


On March 5, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) held its 22nd annual Teddy Waste Awards ceremony on Parliament Hill. The awards celebrate the best of the worst in government waste uncovered in the past year.


The provincial Teddy Award went to the Yukon Department of Tourism for spending $139,000 on putting gold in a creek in Dawson City. The “Gold Rush II” initiative was originally intended to be funded by private money, but a crowdfunding effort to raise $100,000 only ended up raising $4,500, which made it obvious to everyone that the idea was terrible.


At that point, the Yukon government stepped in with taxpayer money to cover the rest of the plan to pay for three social media influencers and one reporter to document the event. As expected, aside from everyone being paid to be there, no-one bothered to turn up.


"If anyone is able to spot a bad idea, it's our government," explained Premier Sandy Silver, Minister of Finance and MLA for Dawson City. "For decades the Yukon has been wasting taxpayer dollars from other parts of Canada to make it seem like we need the money. We are happy to be finally recognized for this on the national stage"

“If anyone is able to spot a bad idea, it's our government." - Sandy Silver, Yukon Premier

Jeanie Dendys, Yukon's Minister of Tourism and Culture, issued a written statement in response to the Teddy Award. "There is a veritable treasure trove of fascinating and incredibly important First Nation histories that have been hidden from view for a long time. For that reason, it made perfect sense to further promote the well-known Klondike Gold Rush from the non-Indigenous perspective."


Despite the official air of celebration, sources close to Premier Silver say he is frustrated by the relatively small amount of waste highlighted by the award.


"The Premier feels this was a missed opportunity," a cabinet staffer told the Whitewash News. "Many of his own ministers believe he should step up and demand better recognition. There is a lot of bickering and infighting."


Yukon's official opposition party says the territorial government has consistently failed to show the rest of Canada the true extent of taxpayer waste within the territory. 


"Wasting some money and wasting an inordinate amount of money are two different things," said Yukon Party MLA Brad Carruthers after a rowdy question period at the Legislative Assembly on Thursday.


"Canadian taxpayers outside of Yukon are - this year alone - giving us $1.3 billion in transfer payments via the federal government. The onus is on this government to invent ways to spend it or we won't get the same amount next year."

"The onus is on this government to invent ways to spend it or we won't get the same amount next year." - Brad Carruthers, MLA

Carruthers said his party is not the only one putting pressure on the Premier to push for increased recognition. "There is anger amongst the opposition parties that more isn't being done to put Yukon on the map."


Dawson folk "too down to earth"


Of the three social media influencers paid to promote the campaign, only one actually mentioned it. Susy Bailey, an influencer based in Toronto, posted in an Instagram blog: "Do not go to Dawson City, there are literally zero opportunities to pretend your life is better than others. Dawson folk are #toodowntoearth"

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