Yukon Party Leader Darrell Pasloski. Strengths: not Fentie. Weaknesses: issues.
Darrell Pasloski is easiest to characterize by what he’s not.
He’s not freewheeling. He sticks to the script, which he keeps in a plastic binder that’s ever-present at debates and news conferences.
He’s not a blowhard or a badass. He’s bland.
In short, he’s not Dennis Fentie. And that’s precisely why he’s the Yukon Party’s leader this election.
The governing party’s brain trust knows voters typically want to kick the bums out by the end of a second term. So Fentie had to go.
Fentie, tarnished by the ATCO energy-privatization scandal, was dirty. Pasloski, an unelected pharmacist who unsuccessfully ran as a Conservative candidate two federal elections ago, is clean.
That’s not to say he’s ran an honest, forthright election campaign – simply that he hasn’t been around long enough to pick up the whiff of scandal.
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Some of Pasloski’s claims this election are demonstrably false. He often asserts the opposition parties claim the territory cannot have both pristine wilderness and a strong economy.
They’ve never said anything of the sort. When the Yukon News called Pasloski on this during a Wednesday news conference, he simply returned to his script as if nothing had happened.
Similarly, Pasloski asserts acting to preserve the Peel Watershed would bankrupt the territory.
As proof, he points to Chevron’s massive Crest iron deposit along the Snake River.
But the Crest deposit doesn’t have proven reserves or a modern feasibility study. Both are needed for a company to make a strong case for being paid foregone profits.
The company hasn’t explored its deposit since the 1960s either, and it’s unlikely the company would be compensated for work done that long ago.
Yet Pasloski grimly predicts protecting the Peel would result in tax hikes for all, service cuts for the needy and children going hungry.
Pasloski has also flat-out contradicted himself on the Peel plan.
First he claimed it would be “irresponsible” to take a position on matter.
Later, he announced that, to prevent financial ruin, he’d strike a new deal, which would somehow succeed where five years of planning has failed, and would please miners and conservationists alike.
Pasloski frequently admonishes the opposition with the line, “That’s not leadership.” But, given all of the aforementioned gaffs, he’s not leading by example.
The Yukon Party’s platform, like Pasloski himself, is best described in reverse.
It’s not about issues. That’s why they haven’t been particularly strong on them.
A booming economy is often a boon to politicians at election-time. The Yukon Party’s betting that’s the case now.
It has dusted-off its audacious claim its largely responsible for the current mining boom (and not, say, global metal prices).
And it is assuming it has it all about right. Campaign promises have offered tweaks, rather than novel reforms.
Bold new ideas are out. Like the party’s rejection of protecting the Peel Watershed, Pasloski has also ignored a government-commissioned plan to help Whitehorse’s hardcore alcoholics.
Dr. Bruce Beaton has recommended the territory build a new downtown sobering centre to allow seriously-intoxicated residents to dry out under medical supervision.
The Yukon Party is building a new drunk tank at the jail instead – a location that Beaton insists sends the wrong message to alcoholics who could kick the bottle, with the right support.
Beaton’s plan may cost too much, said Pasloski. Beaton disputes this, noting that the Yukon Party’s plan to build a new detoxification centre could easily be extended to include a sobering facility.
That would allow staff to be pooled – something that cannot be done when nurses are up at the jail.
Pasloski spurned Beaton’s plan without ever speaking to the doctor. That’s despite the fact that they’re golfing buddies, and the report was released nearly nine months ago.
And Pasloski similarly snubbed an invitation to meet with Yukon’s chiefs this election.
Pasloski’s flashiest announcement is that he’d work to turn Yukon College into a university. But, without any timeline or spending commitments, that promise doesn’t mean much.
To address Whitehorse’s housing pinch, Pasloski would open-up a new neighbourhood in Mountainview, to be built by private developers rather than the city.
And, unlike the Liberals and NDP, the Yukon Party wouldn’t prevent the city from developing McIntyre Creek, an area conservationists describe as an important wildlife corridor.
Pasloski is championing natural gas as a “medium-term” fix to the territory’s energy pinch. There’s a wealth of it way up in Eagle Plains, which Northern Cross hopes to exploit and sell to mines.
But these plans are still in their early days, and it’s far from clear whether this gas could hit the market as soon as Pasloski hopes.
There’s one more thing Pasloski is not. That’s easy to reach.
He’s made far fewer public appearances than his opponents this campaign. And he was the only leader to decline an interview for this series of profiles.
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