John Edzerza will not prop up Premier Dennis Fentie’s minority government.
The independent MLA has been rumoured to become the legislature’s next Speaker, allowing Fentie to bring Ted Staffen onto the government benches after former minister of Energy, Mines and Resources Brad Cathers resigned two weeks ago.
The move would restore Fentie’s majority, protecting him from a non-confidence motion the Liberals have promised to introduce at the outset of the fall sitting.
But even if Edzerza were asked to become Speaker – which comes with considerably more perks and money than being an independent – he would turn it down.
“If they did ask me, I wouldn’t do it,” said Edzerza, who resigned as minister of Justice and Education in August 2006 because Fentie was bullying cabinet.
Cathers jumped ship on August 28 for the same reason, but this time reasons for leaving included secret negotiations the government had with ATCO to privatize the Yukon Energy Corporation.
“I left Mr. Fentie’s government under the same circumstances as Brad,” said Edzerza. “And it doesn’t look like anything has changed.”
Edzerza wants to keep Fentie in a minority position so that it has to listen to the opposition’s ideas.
It will teach politicians humility, he said.
The roughshod government rams legislation over the concerns of the opposition and doesn’t appear to foster much co-operation.
“This will force them to co-operate.”
It will also weaken senseless partisanship, he said.
“They say their priority is the people. Well, now prove it,” he said.
The newest independent MLA was jubilant at the news.
“I believe John and I can work together with much less partisan spin than the Liberals and the NDP and provide constructive input into legislation,” said Cathers.
Cathers resigned because Fentie kept the ATCO negotiations from cabinet and the public, and feels that the scandal still perturbs other ministers who have not yet spoken out.
“I would not be surprised if someone else should join me,” he said.
Fentie did not answer questions on Cathers’ resignation for 17 days.
Before entering a community meeting on Monday, Fentie said that he wouldn’t comment directly on Cathers’ assertion he “lied” to the Yukon public.
But he did admit he knew ATCO was interested in privatizing some Yukon Energy assets, and that it was a mistake to keep the talks from the public.
He also pledged to hold a fall session, which has not yet been scheduled.
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