Fixed election dates, increased access to information and a possible new school board are among the new commitments included in the Yukon Liberal platform, unveiled Tuesday.
The Liberals are the first major party to release their entire platform, though the Yukon Green Party’s platform has been available on its website for some time.
“In this election, fear has been an unwelcome theme,” said Liberal Leader Sandy Silver. “The Yukon Party has tried to incite fear on carbon pricing and the New Democrats have tried to incite fear about fracking. Fear is used as a strategy by political parties to divide the electorate in situations where they are not confident in their own positions. The Yukon Liberals are confident in our position.”
The Liberals are proposing fixed election dates and fixed dates for legislative sittings. Fixed election dates were proposed in September by NDP Leader Liz Hanson as a possible solution to the abrupt doubling in severance pay for MLAs once they have been in office for five years plus a day.
The party also wants to look at creating a public school board to manage the operation of schools, leaving the education department to deal largely with policy. Currently, the Yukon French school board is the only school board in the territory.
The Liberals also say they will update the territory’s access-to-information laws to make more government information available to Yukoners.
The Liberal platform includes a number of commitments pulled from the right and the left. For instance, the party says it will make National Aboriginal Day a statutory holiday in the Yukon, something the NDP has been pushing for well over a year. It also wants to create a public registry of organizations that lobby the government. The NDP tabled a bill that would have created a lobbyist registry more than two years ago.
The Liberals also say they will work to help Yukon College become a university, a project the Yukon Party government announced in November 2015.
The list of more than 130 commitments also includes a pledge to train all Yukon government employees on the legacy of residential schools and to renew the moratorium on oil and gas development in the Whitehorse trough.
The party also says it will re-examine the feasibility of connecting the Yukon’s grid to B.C. or Alaska, even though a study completed last year concluded that would not be financially viable.
The Liberals also want to create developed land banks in Yukon communities that would keep a stock of lots available, in order to keep lot prices down.
Regarding health, the Liberals say they will recruit more mental health workers, adopt a housing-first strategy for vulnerable populations and keep the Whistle Bend continuing care centre to 150 beds.
The Liberals also plan to regulate midwifery in the territory and to create a tax credit to offset the cost of in vitro fertilization.
The party has also revealed more information to the News about its plans for dealing with a federally-imposed carbon tax. It plans to return the revenue from a carbon tax to Yukoners through dividend or rebate cheques, likely issued once or twice a year. People in low-income brackets may get more back than the average Yukoner.
At the Tuesday announcement, Silver tried to position the Yukon Liberals as the only party that hasn’t burned bridges with some sector of the population.
“The NDP does not have the confidence of or the connections with industry, especially the mining industry, to turn this around. The Yukon Liberals do,” he said. “The Yukon Party does not have the confidence of or the connections with Yukon First Nations to make this happen, and the Yukon Liberals do.”
He said the Liberals are focusing on inclusivity and respect, “not grandiose promises that are made at the 11th hour to win an election.”
The platform suggests they haven’t been holding back any big surprises, either.
But Silver suggested that’s a strength for the Liberals, not a weakness.
“We’re basing our decisions upon research,” Silver said.
Contact Maura Forrest at firstname.lastname@example.org