Edzerza switches party for third time, props up Fentie

John Edzerza has joined the Yukon Party and given Premier Dennis Fentie back his majority government.

John Edzerza has joined the Yukon Party and given Premier Dennis Fentie back his majority government.

Edzerza’s move confounded colleagues Thursday, who as recently as last month heard Edzerza chastise Fentie for being a bully, and extolling the benefits of a minority government.

“The Yukon legislature is becoming musical chairs,” said Todd Hardy, a New Democratic party MLA and former party leader.

“And the people are going to say that these people don’t have ethics or standards,” he said.

Edzerza has saved Fentie from entering the legislature in a minority position borne from the high-profile resignation of former Energy, Mines and Resources minister Brad Cathers in the fallout from the ATCO scandal last August.

For that, opposition members – who were hankering for a fall sitting with some leverage to pressure Fentie – voiced distaste at Edzerza’s surprise change of heart.

“I am disappointed with what John did when last month he said he wouldn’t do it,” said Cathers, who sat as an independent with Edzerza until yesterday.

“I took him at his word – and I’m disappointed he didn’t do that,” he said.

There was rampant speculation over what kind of deal Edzerza got for his allegiance.

“Was it a minister’s post or a Speaker’s chair?” said Cathers, who added that both positions carry a significant boost in pay and profile.

Calls to Edzerza’s office were not returned and Fentie’s spokesperson, Roxanne Vallevand, said there would be no comment until Edzerza speaks.

Media received a brief news release early Thursday morning announcing his immediate inclusion in the government.

“One of my priorities is to work with First Nation governments to establish land-based treatment programs in Yukon,” Edzerza is quoted as saying in the release.

Edzerza was singing a different tune when Cathers quit in August.

“Just two months ago, he was talking publicly about the premier’s bullying behaviour and how having a minority government was good,” said Arthur Mitchell, leader of the Liberal party.

Fentie “lied” about selling hydro assets owned by the Yukon Energy Corporation to ATCO and Fentie’s aggressive behaviour stifled ministers and silenced political staff, Cathers said on August 28.

At the time, Edzerza supported Cathers’ resignation and even referred to him having the “intestinal fortitude” to stand up to Fentie.

“I left Mr. Fentie’s government under the same circumstances as Brad,” said Edzerza in early September. “And it doesn’t look like anything has changed.”

Back then, Edzerza said he wouldn’t join Fentie’s government.

“If they did ask me, I wouldn’t do it,”

he said.

And now, just a few weeks later, there’s the new John Edzerza.

Joining the Yukon Party is a good thing because it helps avoid an election that nobody wants, he said in his release.

An election is unlikely since the opposition doesn’t have the required votes to pass a nonconfidence motion.

Edzerza has changed party allegiances three times in three years. He served under the Yukon Party banner and was a minister in Fentie’s cabinet from 2002 to 2006, when on the eve of an election, he declared his intention to run as a New Democrat.

Edzerza won the party’s nomination battle in his riding, McIntyre-Takhini, and was re-elected. He remained a New Democrat for a little more than two years, and quit the party this January to sit as an independent.

Party leaders are “blackmailed” by their caucus because they threaten to break ranks if they don’t get what they want, said Hardy, who led the New Democrats when Edzerza was a member.

“We’re all tarnished by it in the end,” said Hardy.

Edzerza jumping into bed with Fentie is different than his switch to the New Democrats, said Hardy, because Edzerza had to win a nomination before being allowed into the fold.

Contact James Munson at


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Yukon RCMP are making an appeal for information in the case of Mary Ann Ollie, who was murdered in Ross River last year and whose case remains unsolved. (Black Press file)
Yukon youth being extorted online

Yukon RCMP say they’ve received three reports of youth being extorted on… Continue reading

Fines for contravening the fire ban start at $1,150 and could go as high as $100,000. File photo
Yukon campgrounds will open on May 1 this year. (Black Press file)
Yukon campgrounds to open early

Yukon campgrounds will open on May 1 this year. The early opening… Continue reading

Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce executive director Susan Guatto and program manager Andrei Samson outside the chamber office in downtown Whitehorse Feb. 23. (Stephanie Waddell, Yukon News)
When business models shift

Whitehorse chamber offers digital marketing workshop

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: The aesthetics and economics of highway strips

One of the many cultural experiences you enjoy while driving from Whitehorse… Continue reading

Artwork by Grade 2 student Faith showing her thanks for everyone.
Artwork by Grade 2 student Faith showing her thanks for everyone. (Submitted)
Yukon kids express gratitude for nature, pets and friends in art campaign

More than 50 children submitted artwork featuring things they are grateful for

Tom Ullyett, pictured, is the first Yukoner to receive the Louis St-Laurent Award of Excellence from the Canadian Bar Association for his work as a community builder and mentor in the territory. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Tom Ullyett wins lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Bar Association

Ullyett has worked in the Yukon’s justice ecosystem for 36 years as a public sector lawyer and mentor

The Blood Ties outreach van will now run seven nights a week, thanks to a boost in government funding. Logan Godin, coordinator, and Jesse Whelen, harm reduction counsellor, are seen here on May 12, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Blood Ties outreach van running seven nights a week with funding boost

The Yukon government is ramping up overdose response, considering safe supply plan

Ranj Pillai speaks to media about business relief programs in Whitehorse on April 1, 2020. The Yukon government announced Feb.25 that it will extend business support programs until September. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Government extends business relief programs to September, launches new loan

“It really gives folks some help with supporting their business with cash flow.”

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
A look at decisions made by Whitehorse City Council this week

Bylaw amendment Whitehorse city council is moving closer with changes to a… Continue reading

Susie Rogan is a veteran musher with 14 years of racing experience and Yukon Journey organizer. (Yukon Journey Facebook)
Yukon Journey mushers begin 255-mile race

Eleven mushers are participating in the race from Pelly Crossing to Whitehorse

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. As the legislature prepares to return on March 4, the three parties are continuing to finalize candidates in the territory’s 19 ridings. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Nine new candidates confirmed in Yukon ridings

It has been a busy two weeks as the parties try to firm up candidates

David Malcolm, 40, has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm a police officer after an incident in Whitehorse on Feb. 18. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Man resists arrest, assaults officer

A Whitehorse man has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm… Continue reading

Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on Aug. 4, 2020. A site on Robert Service Way near the Alaska Highway has been selected as the future home of Yukon Energy’s energy storage project. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Site selected for Yukon Energy battery project

Planned to be in service by the end of 2022

Most Read