Fentie takes Edzerza’s tips

ELECTION 2006 NOTEBOOK Looks like Premier Dennis Fentie learned something from John Edzerza after all.


Looks like Premier Dennis Fentie learned something from John Edzerza after all.

Edzerza, formerly the Education and Justice minister, left the Yukon Party in early August, citing a social-welfare deficit within the party and anger about the fact he had not been listened to.

“We have to put more emphasis and more support towards treatment, as opposed to any other form of ways to deal with the drug issue,” said Edzerza in August.

“I’ve had several younger people come to ask me, ‘Who do I go to see? I want to quit this coke.’

“Quite frankly, I don’t know where to send them.”

A government sincere in its desire to work with aboriginal people should develop drug-rehabilitation programs with First Nations that have the necessary infrastructure, he said.

Apparently Fentie took Edzerza’s parting advice.

On Tuesday, he announced the government’s new Substance Abuse Action Plan will put treatment facilities in communities.

“Along with getting tougher on drug dealers in this territory and ensuring that enforcement and justice are dealing with these matters, there are also those that have been afflicted with substance abuse,” Fentie said at the Yukon Party’s Whitehorse campaign headquarters, flanked by two female senior citizens.

“We are going to get a lot more serious in the Yukon with respect to dealing with those who are suffering from substance abuse, and to do that we must provide adequate treatment to those individuals.

“We must add this next step of treatment programming and treatment facilities.”

The Yukon Party wants treatment facilities in First Nations territory where there’s appropriate infrastructure, he said.

“Two of the golden opportunities that we have are with Kwanlin Dun First Nation and Champagne/Aishihik First Nations, who have on the ground today, physically, facilities that may serve a positive, constructive purpose.”

An office to administer the Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods Act will be in operation by October, said Fentie.

“We are in the final stages of recruiting enforcement people.”

Still, the substance abuse plan and the safer communities legislation were cribbed from the NDP, said Edzerza.

“Had it not been for Todd Hardy and his town hall meetings, there would not have been a safer community legislation,” he said. (GM)

Mitchell didn’t dodge

Mitchell is no draft dodger, and he has the documentation to prove it.

Mitchell has been subjected to a whisper campaign suggesting he came to Canada in the early ‘70s to avoid conscription during the Vietnam War.

Last week, the Liberals released a one-page letter that shows Mitchell signed up for military service, as dictated by US law.

“I don’t know where this is coming from, but I’ve had it repeated to me from people who live in Haines Junction, and I’ve had it repeated to me recently,” he said Thursday.

“I can’t respond to a whisper campaign. The people who are doing it probably know it’s not true and that’s why nobody will say it publicly.”

So to fight the rumours, Mitchell asked the Selective Service System, an independent US federal agency responsible for finding military manpower in the United States, for proof.

Mitchell was classified as “available for military service,” in 1971, according to the letter, dated June 30, 2006, from the organization’s national headquarters in Arlington, Virginia.

But Mitchell was given a “relatively high number in the first lottery, which eliminated any chance of induction at a time when the first steps were taken to phase out military conscription.”

The US abolished the draft completely in 1973.

“I certainly don’t want people to think that there’s anything I’m hiding in my past,” said Mitchell.

“I’ve never broken the law.

“If I had been drafted I would have gone because, even at 21, I agreed with obeying the law.”

Born in New York City, Mitchell came to the Yukon on a holiday, en route to Alaska, in 1971.

He fell in love with the landscape and decided to settle in ’72.

“I’ve met draft dodgers and I’ve know people who have gone to war and I respect their decisions. It’s just not a decision I’ve had to make,” he said.

Mitchell, now 56, was 21 when he moved to Canada. He became a Canadian citizen in 1980, but retains his American citizenship. (LC)