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Yukon MLAs to vote on cabinet minister's resignation over Hidden Valley scandal

All eyes will be on Yukon's Legislative Assembly Wednesday afternoon, as MLAs are set to debate and vote on whether former education minister Tracy-Anne McPhee should resign because of her role during the Hidden Valley scandal. 

Tracy-Anne McPhee was minister in 2019 when the education assistant first had charges brought against him

Tracy-Anne McPhee was the education minister in 2019, when RCMP first brought sexual interference charges against an educational assistant at Hidden Valley Elementary School. (Jackie Hong/CBC)

All eyes will be on Yukon's Legislative Assembly Wednesday afternoon, as MLAs are set to debate and vote on whether Tracy-Anne McPhee, former education minister, should resign because of her role during the Hidden Valley scandal. 

McPhee was the minister of education in 2019 when William Auclair-Bellemare, an education assistant at the Hidden Valley elementary school, was arrested and charged with sexual interference. 

Documents obtained by CBC News show that Yukon's Department of Education wrote communications about Auclair-Bellemare's arrest as far back as December 2019, but none were sent to parents. 

Another access to information request found a briefing note to minister McPhee in January 2020 about the situation. 

Lake Laberge MLA Brad Cathers first introduced the motion for McPhee's resignation late Monday.

"It is the opinion of this House that the deputy premier should resign from cabinet due to her mishandling of sexual abuse at Hidden Valley Elementary School," the motion reads. 

The motion is not binding, in the sense that if a majority votes for it, the minister does not have to resign. Only the Premier can hire or fire ministers from his cabinet. 

In the legislature Tuesday, Cathers and Yukon Party Leader Currie Dixon lobbed several questions at McPhee, now the deputy premier, to get her to resign ahead of the vote. 

Yukon Premier Sandy Silver at a COVID-19 update on Aug. 20. He says both the former and current education minister are doing 'exceptional work' to find out what went wrong in the Hidden Valley scandal. (Jackie Hong/CBC)

On the last attempt, Premier Sandy Silver defended both McPhee and the current education minister on how they've responded to the Hidden Valley scandal. 

"I believe that both my ministers have done an exceptional job of trying to get to the bottom of what has happened," Silver told the legislature. 

Support a public inquiry, NDP urges

The NDP also introduced a separate motion for the government to call a public inquiry into the abuse. 

Kate White, leader of the Yukon NDP, said what the Liberals say in response to that call will inform her vote on McPhee's resignation. 

NDP leader Kate White says she hasn't made up her mind on how she will vote, but how the Liberals respond to their motion for a public inquiry will be one deciding factor. (Wayne Vallevand/ CBC)

"The most powerful thing the government can do … is to say look, you know, we're wrong, and we're going to call a public inquiry," White told CBC. 

Four different investigations have already been launched into the Hidden Valley scandal, most recently by the territory's Ombudsman. 

White said the NDP "doesn't whip votes," so her party members will make their own decisions on how to vote tomorrow. 

Clarifications

  • This story was updated to note that the motion is not binding, in the sense that if a majority votes for it, the minister does not have to resign. Only the Premier can hire or fire ministers from his cabinet.
    Oct 27, 2021 11:32 AM CT

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