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WHITEHORSE – The most recent report on the mishandling of abuse allegations at a Yukon school, entitled ‘Left in the Dark’ from the Yukon Ombudsman is just the latest condemnation of the Liberal government’s handling of this issue. It confirms and supports what we, and many Yukoners have been saying for several years now: that the Liberal government’s actions and response failed victims, families, and the school community.
“Report after report has admonished the Liberal government’s handling of this issue, yet there continues to be a complete absence of ministerial accountability, and failure to take responsibility," said Brad Cathers, MLA for Lake Laberge. “Despite the government failing in its legal and moral duty to parents and children, not a single person has lost their job as a consequence or even been reprimanded. This is an ongoing failure of leadership by the Liberal government, and the premier.”
Key findings of the report include that the government's actions were unfair to people impacted, that the government had a clear legal duty to inform parents, and broke two laws (the Child and Family Services Act and the Education Act) in failing to report suspected abuse properly.
This report further bolsters the arguments made in the Yukon Legislative Assembly on October 27, 2021, when a majority of MLAs voted to have Minister of Justice Tracy-Ann McPhee removed from cabinet. Despite that motion passing, both former Premier Sandy Silver, and current Premier Ranj Pillai decided to keep the minister in cabinet.
In October of 2021, the Minister of Justice admitted that she was ‘absolutely’ aware of the situation but asserted that families of the victims did not want political attention on this issue. This led to many parents and families describing the Minister’s comments as ‘insulting.’
During debate on the motion calling on the minister to be removed from cabinet, NDP MLA Lane Tredger said: “It is not safe for her to be in cabinet. It is not safe for her to be a minister. It is especially not safe for her to be the minister of Health and Social Services and of Justice, where her decisions are going to affect some of the most vulnerable Yukoners.”
While the NDP made strong comments and voted to have the minister removed, they continue to prop up the Liberal government and allow Premier Pillai to keep Minister McPhee in cabinet.