All eyes on chamber luncheon

Premier Dennis Fentie is hungry. He wanted a chamber of commerce luncheon, and he wanted it fast. Roughly a week ago, Fentie’s office called…

Premier Dennis Fentie is hungry.

He wanted a chamber of commerce luncheon, and he wanted it fast.

Roughly a week ago, Fentie’s office called the Yukon Chamber of Commerce and asked for a luncheon Friday, September 8th, said Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce president Rick Karp.

“The initiative came from the premier’s office,” said Karp on Wednesday.

“He wanted a luncheon.”

Today’s noon-hour event at the High Country Inn will be co-hosted by the Yukon and Whitehorse chambers, featuring a keynote speech from Fentie entitled Clear Vision for a Bright Future.

Sounds like platform material, said Karp.

“I hope there is some mention of the (upcoming election) timing.”

But Yukon chamber chair Sandy Babcock denied the allegation that her office complied with a request from Fentie.

“We were trying to schedule a lunch in early August,” Babcock said Friday.

“We do this a couple of times a year with the premier.

“I talked to somebody in his office. We do talk periodically about when we are going to do these, so we were talking about when can we do one?

“Because we all know that an election is going to happen in the fall, sometime.

“I was talking to one of the people in his office, and we were talking about God knows what, and said, ‘It’s time.’”

The Yukon chamber confirmed its reservation with the High Country Inn 10 days ago, she said.

Regardless of how the luncheon was arranged, Fentie’s speech today trumps Liberal leader Arthur Mitchell, who has long been scheduled to address the Whitehorse chamber on Tuesday — especially if Fentie uses the chamber podium to announce an election date.

Fentie last addressed the Whitehorse chamber on March 21.

New Democratic Party leader Todd Hardy spoke to the Whitehorse chamber on June 6th. It’s Mitchell’s turn next week.

Fentie may have wangled some extra face time, but the Yukon chamber is planning to give all three party leaders a chance to speak.

“Our intention is to hold a leaders’ forum with all three leaders and present our questions,” said Babcock.

“What we’re more interested in is what is going on with land development and what is going on with the labour shortages that everybody is experiencing.

“Life can’t stop because there’s a pending election. These issues don’t go away.

“What is important to business, that’s where we’re focused.”

(GM & GK)

Jenkins leans  independent

Klondike MLA Peter Jenkins thinks Fentie will make the election call at lunchtime today.

“I think Dennis is going to call the election (Friday) at lunch hour,” Jenkins said Thursday.

But that would land E-day on Thanksgiving, since Yukon legislation requires a 31-day campaign period that culminates with polls on a Monday.

“(Fentie) can let it out as to when it’s going to occur,” explained Jenkins.

“He can’t call it tomorrow, but he can indicate that he’s going to the commissioner, and go longer than a 30-day writ.”

(Actually, Fentie is bound by law to a 31-day election, but can announce it weeks in advance.)

Whenever Fentie calls it, Jenkins probably won’t be running for the Yukon Party.

Dawson City hotelier Steve Nordick announced his intention to seek the Yukon Party nomination for the Klondike at a meeting next week.

As far as Jenkins is concerned, Nordick is the party’s man.

“I believe he is who the Yukon Party have selected,” said Jenkins.

There are still options, he said.

The NDP nominated Jorn Meier months ago, but the Liberals have yet to announce a candidate.

Would Mitchell court Jenkins?

Never in hell, say sources in the Liberal office.

So Jenkins is more likely to seek re-election on his own.

“It’ll probably be independent,” he said. (GM)

Trouble with timing

The government has been making a lot of spending and policy announcements in recent weeks, trying to highlight its achievements.

Three initiatives were announced, or re-announced, Thursday.

The Education department announced $91,000 to expand its Whole Child Program.

Health and Social Services re-announced $153,000 to fund the Yukon Family Services community outreach van six nights a week (the commitment to do this was made months ago).

And 24 Firesmart projects valued at $851,156 were approved.

That’s all taxpayer money, announced on the cusp of an election season, by a government seeking a second term.

The media manipulations have been ongoing, including a staged memorandum of understanding with the Selkirk First Nation and, more recently, a climate-change strategy.

The timing of the climate-change document release was “absolutely not” electioneering, said Fentie.

“We’re releasing it because it’s concluded, done,” he said Tuesday.

“We’ve maintained all along that we’re still a government, there’s still work being done, and this is an example of work that is being finished and we’re making it public.

“We’ve always maintained that full disclosure to the public is one of our strengths.”

The document contradicts Fentie.

The date of publication is stamped on the inside cover of the 14-page brochure.

It was published in July 2006.

“If we could have released it sooner, fine, but it wasn’t completed,” said Fentie on Wednesday.

“Once completed, we moved immediately to release it into the public domain.”

Apparently, “immediately” is a relative term in Fentie’s lexicon. (GM)