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  • Writer's pictureKlondike Kate

Whitehorse residents told to "go f**k themselves"

WHITEHORSE - Leaked emails reveal contempt for everyday Yukoners

Minister for Highways and Public Works Richard Mostyn in Whitehorse on April 2, 2020 (File photo)

On Wednesday morning, dozens of internal Yukon Government emails were leaked to the media.

The emails all relate to efforts by the government to force through its massively unpopular Alaska Highway upgrades.

One of the emails, dated April 15, is sent from a senior manager within Yukon's Department of Highways and Public Works (HPW) to the office of HPW Minister Richard Mostyn.

The email outlines deep concerns over Mostyn's decision to ignore the results of public consultations and press ahead with his plans for the Alaska Highway upgrades.

In another email dated April 16, Mostyn strategises with his staff on how to ignore the public and get away with it.

In an expletive-laden conversation, Mostyn writes "I'm sick of dealing with f**king idiot Yukoners who don't know what's best for them. As far as I'm concerned, residents who oppose my plans can go f**k themselves."

"As far as I'm concerned, residents who oppose my plans can go f**k themselves." - Richard Mostyn, Minister for Highways and Public Works

Alaska Highway upgrades

The current crisis was sparked on Tuesday with the announcement of the highway upgrades on HPW's Facebook page.

The announcement detailed Mostyn's intentions to start work on the upgrades next month despite the fact that they are widely opposed by the public and still under review by the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board (YESAB). 

A number of the internal emails leaked on Wednesday reveal how Mostyn convinced HPW's Deputy Minister to mislead the public about the infrastructure project.

On March 24, Mostyn wrote "I want something that makes people think this is a good idea. Something that makes it harder for those f**kers in Whitehorse West to keep opposing me."

I want something that makes it harder for those f**kers in Whitehorse West to keep opposing me." - Richard Mostyn, Minister for Highways and Public Works

The end result was a strange graphic of an imaginary intersection outside Whitehorse Airport that features an image of a giant crossing the Alaska Highway.

According to the emails, the reason for including the giant is to detract the public's attention away from the four-lane highway nobody wants or needs.

"We want to manipulate people into thinking what's the problem here?" Mostyn wrote in an email on March 28.

"Let's sell these idiots the one positive part of the project and then make it seem like all the rest is necessary too."

HPW's misleading graphic features a fantastical depiction of the Alaska Highway and a giant on a pedestrian crossing (Image: Yukon Highways and Public Works)

A history of opposition

In 2016, Mostyn along with Mountainview MLA Jeanie Dendys campaigned on the promise that they would scrap the Yukon Party's unpopular plans to construct a four-lane highway between the intersections of Two Mile Hill and Robert Service Way.

The plans had been heavily criticized by the Liberal Party on the basis that they were over-the-top and would negatively impact highway safety and the environment.

Once appointed to cabinet in December 2016, Mostyn and Dendys immediately reneged on their campaign promise and announced their intentions to go ahead with the four-lane construction.

Yukoners' calls to improve highway safety on the section in question were ramped up after a fatal 2014 vehicle collision at the junction of the Alaska Highway and Robert Service Way.

Despite the death of one person, and dozens of near-misses, Mostyn gave an interview to the Yukon News in November 2018 and expressed his view that human life wasn't worth the cost of a traffic light.

Two months later, there was another vehicle collision at the exact same spot. The incident resulted in serious injuries to the driver of a car and a City of Whitehorse fire truck was written off.

For her part, Dendys has been called out publicly by her constituents on dozens of occasions for telling them one thing to their face and then doing something else behind their backs.

Contempt is nothing new

This is not the first time that members of Premier Silver's cabinet have demonstrated contempt for democracy and everyday Yukoners.

Silver himself made national news in 2017 during a Q&A period in the Yukon Legislative Assembly when he said "I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose voters."

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