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Conservatives promise new digs for Yukon cadets

The federal Conservatives are using the military to get Yukoners to the polls next month.

The federal Conservatives are using the military to get Yukoners to the polls next month.

With about three weeks to go before Canada elects its prime minister, Defence Minister Jason Kenney made a campaign stop in Whitehorse yesterday.

Kenney promised a newly-elected Conservative government would build a winterized facility for Yukon’s cadets in Whitehorse.

The announcement comes on the heels of his boss, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, coming to town three weeks ago to promise Yukoners their own Canadian Armed Forces reserve unit.

“I think there will be a great synergy, a great connection between the expanded cadet program here in the Yukon and the new army reserve unit announced by the prime minister,” Kenney said.

“We’re going to explore the possibility of having the army reserve unit use the same facility.”

No location has been settled on for the 500-square-metre facility. Kenney estimated it will cost $1 million to build it but the government has set aside $5 million to cover anything extra that comes up.

The territorial government has committed $250,000, he said.

The existing Whitehorse cadet summer training centre will still be up and running. Boyle Barracks is a 180-hectare site 20 kilometres south of Whitehorse, designed for summer use only. Because of a lack of storage space, training equipment is currently kept in a sea can.

The new place will have secure storage, Kenney said.

Whitehorse has two cadet corps, with a total of about 60 young Canadians aged 12 to 18.

In the winter the cadets parade in Whitehorse Elementary School. Target shooting with pellet guns is done at a variety of locations - right now a garage with a cardboard target, said David Laxton, national vice president (Western Arctic) of the Army Cadet League of Canada and Yukon’s Speaker of the House.

Laxton said the new facility, which was advocated for by the territorial government, will allow cadets to get more practice and could encourage more people to join.

“It’s free for the kids to participate in the junior rangers, the air cadets and the army cadets, and it’s a great launching point for the primary reserve unit,” he said.

“Yukoners want to serve. They want to serve their country, but they want to live in the Yukon.”

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