The Yukon Party’s new cabinet was sworn in on Saturday.
Elaine Taylor is minister of Community Services, the Public Service Commission, the women’s directorate and French language services. The MLA for Whitehorse West also continues her role as deputy premier.
Brad Cathers is house leader and minister of Energy, Mines and Resources. The MLA for Lake Laberge is also responsible for the Yukon Energy Corporation.
Taylor and Cathers are the only two returning Yukon Party MLAs. Both have served since 2002, and Premier Darrell Pasloski is counting on each to shoulder important files.
Community Services is a potential minefield, as failing sewer lines and mould-ridden rural offices always cause lots of squawking.
And Taylor will have to explain why the Whistle Bend subdivision has become a treeless moonscape, why plans to tap geothermal energy were nixed and how the development came to be dogged by a contract dispute.
Cathers will have to prepare for Yukon’s looming power pinch. His return to the energy file is also a vindication – he quit the job in the autumn of 2009 after falling out with then-premier Dennis Fentie over the ATCO energy privatization scandal, and spent the following year and a half sitting as an Independent.
Other MLAs with experience serving under previous governments were also rewarded with cabinet posts.
Porter Creek North MLA Doug Graham, who served as a Progressive Conservative Justice and Education minister three decades ago, before his most recent incarnation as a city councillor, is minister of Health and Social Services and the Yukon Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board.
As such, Graham will need to weigh in to national discussions on Ottawa’s health transfers, as the current agreement expires in 2014. As it stands, Yukon’s Health Department is always pinched for cash and dependably overruns its budget each year.
And Riverdale North MLA Scott Kent, a one-time Liberal cabinet minister, is minister of Education and the housing, liquor and lotteries corporations.
Important jobs didn’t just go to those with ministerial experience. Currie Dixon, a rising star in the Yukon Party who knocked out Liberal Leader Arthur Mitchell in Copperbelt North, is minister of Economic Development and the Environment.
He’s just 26. He may be the youngest cabinet minister in Canadian history.
This is Dixon’s first elected position. But he’s familiar with the corridors of power, having served as the executive assistant to Cathers and, more recently, as a senior policy wonk for Pasloski.
Some may see the twin tasks of Economic Development and Environment as being in conflict with one another. But not Pasloski.
He said in an interview that he assigned both roles to Dixon to make a point. “It speaks to how we want to create a balance,” he said.
Wade Istchenko, MLA for Kluane, is minister of Highways and Public Works.
And Mike Nixon, MLA for Porter Creek South, is minister of Justice, and Tourism and Culture.
Pasloski will continue to serve as Finance minister, and, in doing so, will keep control over the government’s purse strings.
Pasloski touted his background as the owner of two pharmacies as to why he kept the Finance job. And it’s tradition – nearly every Yukon premier has held that file, he said.
Three Yukon Party MLAs are left in the back benches: Pelly-Nisutlin MLA Stacey Hassard, Watson Lake MLA Patti McLeod and Porter Creek Centre MLA David Laxton.
One is expected to be named Speaker. That leaves room for one free member to be promoted into cabinet – the government is required to keep at least one backbencher.
Pasloski intends to call an “abbreviated” session of the legislature sometime before Christmas. During that time he will read the throne speech and table a supplementary budget. No major pieces of legislation are expected to be tabled.
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