Environment minister Wade Istchenko seeks re election in Kluane

Wade Istchenko, environment minister and MLA for Kluane, is running for the Yukon Party nomination in his home riding.

Wade Istchenko, environment minister and MLA for Kluane, is running for the Yukon Party nomination in his home riding.

He was first elected during the last territorial election.

He handled the highways and public works portfolio until a January 2015 cabinet shuffle, at which point he became the environment minister.

“I’m focused on working for the residents of Kluane, bringing that rural perspective,” the MLA told the News last week.

The riding itself is quite big, Istchenko noted.

It sprawls from Haines Junction to communities on the Haines, Alaska road, to Destruction Bay, with many smaller communities in between, including Champagne and Beaver Creek.

Istchenko focused on the fact the Yukon government has no net debt and passed balanced budgets.

“When we receive corporate taxes and our transfer payment we can take that full dollar on health care, road maintenance,” he said.

“We don’t have to take that money and pay debt.”

When asked about the difficult relationships the Yukon Party has had over the years with several Yukon First Nations, Istchenko said his relationship with local First Nation governments is great.

The Kluane riding encompasses the traditional territory of the White River First Nation, Champagne and Aishihik First Nations and the Kluane First Nation.

The Yukon government has been embroiled in numerous lawsuits brought by Yukon First Nations in the past three years, including a high-profile court case over the Peel watershed that will be heard by the Supreme Court of Canada.

The Peel lawsuit, however, didn’t include any of the First Nation governments in Kluane.

Istchenko was born and raised in Haines Junction.

“My time in office, it’s gone by quite quickly,” he said.

“It’s been very rewarding.”

Before getting elected he ran a wilderness tourism outfit in Haines Junction.

The nomination period for Yukon Party candidates closes on July 8, but no ballots will be cast until at least July 29.

Sally Wright is running for the NDP nomination in that riding.

Kluane First Nation Chief Math’ieya Alatini is seeking the Liberal nomination.

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