Ian Stewart/Yukon News fileThen Premier Dennis Fentie during the first day of the Yukon Legislative Assembly’s spring sitting on Feb. 3, 2011. Ian Stewart/Yukon News file Former premier Dennis Fentie during the first day of the Yukon Legislative Assembly’s spring sitting on Feb. 3, 2011. Fentie, the Yukon’s seventh premier has died, officials confirmed

Former Yukon premier Dennis Fentie has died

Fentie, the territory’s seventh premier, was 68

Former Yukon premier Dennis Fentie has died.

Flags are being flown half-mast in Whitehorse, city officials said on social media.

Fentie served as the territory’s seventh premier for nearly a decade from 2002 to 2011 under the Yukon Party banner as the MLA for Watson Lake.

Yukon Party interim leader Stacey Hassard remembered the former premier in a statement, recalling his “tenacious spirit” and his work to fight for his constituents and all Yukoners, no matter what the issue.

“Dennis was first sworn in as premier in November 2002 and during his time in office he made it a priority to rebuild Yukon’s economy while strengthening the territory’s position in the federation.

“Over his nine years as Premier he was instrumental in negotiating a better health care funding agreement between the territories and Canada as well as for getting improvements to the territorial formula financing arrangements. Thanks to the hard work of Dennis, Yukon has made huge progress in implementing devolution and growing up as a territory.

“While placing a focus on growing the economy, Dennis wanted Yukon to utilize its prosperity by supporting a strong health care system while also promoting safer communities. Thanks to these efforts, Yukoners now have access to modern hospitals in the communities of Dawson City and Watson Lake,” Hassard said before extending condolences to Fentie’s family.

Fenties’s political career began in 1996 when he was elected under the NDP as the MLA for Watson Lake. He was re-elected in 2000 and would cross the floor to the Yukon Party in May 2002 just a month before he was selected as party leader.

The Yukon Party would then go on to win the election that year, taking 12 of the 18 seats in the legislature.

His majority government was reduced to a minority in 2006 with the resignations of Copperbelt MLA Haakon Arntzen and MacIntyre-Takhini MLA John Edzerza, who left to sit as an independent. Klondike MLA Peter Jenkins also left after refusing to pay back a government loan. 

Fentie’s Yukon Party had its majority status back after the 2006 general election.

Fentie’s political career ended in 2011 when in April he announced he was stepping down as premier and would not seek re-election.

Darrell Pasloski took over the party leadership and would serve as premier from 2011 to 2016.

Prior to his political career, Fentie worked a number of industries around Watson Lake ranging from logging to trucking and more, including being the owner and former manager of Francis River Construction.

Originally from Edmonton, Fentie moved to Watson Lake in the 1960s.

Yukon Party officials said a statement is expected after they have spoken with Fentie’s family.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com

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