Yukon Speaker accuses youth protesters of disrespect
Letter censures high school students for silent demonstration in vistors gallery
Some parents and students in Whitehorse are upset with the Speaker of the Yukon Legislature over a letter he sent to students who held a protest at the legislature last week.
F. H Collins Secondary School is slated to undergo re-construction starting this spring. Frustrated by the loss of their gym space, students took their concerns to the legislature last Tuesday.
The students gathered in the lobby of the legislature then filed into the visitors gallery, where they held a silent protest.
After the incident, Speaker David Laxton wrote a letter that the school then sent home with its students.
In it, the Speaker says the students were being disrespectful.
"They're not silent in that they're not disruptive," he said.
"People standing and waving their arms, just standing there, causes the members to be distracted. They're looking to the gallery — is this person going to do something? So it takes away from the members’ ability to listen and participate in a full manner."
In Laxton's letter, he refers to his service in the military and says Canadian veterans fought overseas to protect Canadian institutions and democratic practices.
"To disrespect the institutions, democratic processes and beliefs protected by these individuals demonstrates your lack of understanding, knowledge and appreciation of the freedoms you currently enjoy that Canadian soldiers have fought and died to protect."
Laxton's letter has sparked a reaction from students and their parents. They say Laxton's approach was too heavy-handed and it might deter students from protesting in the future.