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WHITEHORSE – The deadline for submitting a bid to the Canada Games Council has come and gone with no bid from the Yukon. This failure falls squarely at the feet of Community Services Minister Richard Mostyn and the territorial Liberal government.
The decision to pull the Yukon bid to host the 2027 Canada Winter Games startled everyone involved and Yukoners have been left scratching their heads about how we got here.
When the announcement not to proceed with the bid was made on November 14, the territorial government’s formal partner, the City of Whitehorse, was not notified until just before the public announcement was made. The news came as a shock to the bid committee itself, the Canada Games Council, Yukon sports groups, our Member of Parliament, and the Federal Government. The Minister cited the lack of federal funding for pulling the bid, but the Yukon’s MP clarified that funding discussions were well underway and went as high as federal Ministers’ offices. The MP noted the figure the Minister was working from was Sport Canada’s base funding, and that further funding was available.
The Minister insisted that almost $200 million was needed to host the Games, including the construction of a $115 million arena, and there was no plan B. However, the Canada Games Council said the bid was a shinier version of what was expected, and posed a potential funding risk, but also suggested the Yukon develop a plan B. In the weeks since, the Minister has brushed off those suggestions and let the deadline pass without trying to salvage the bid that many had worked on to put together.
The reality is that while the decision was clearly made hastily and unilaterally by the territorial Liberal Cabinet, young Yukon and Canadian athletes will feel the ramifications, as the 2027 Canada Winter Games now face the very real possibility of being cancelled. It has left a reputational black eye on the Yukon that will be difficult to recover from as athletes, sports groups, other provinces and territories, and the Canada Games Council wrestle with the fallout of the rash, ill-considered decision of the territorial Liberals.