Premier Dennis Fentie is adept at squeezing money from Ottawa—this much, even his foes acknowledge.
His conservative credentials must help. But a certain amount of glad-handing is also required for any politician to bring home bacon.
Hence Fentie’s busy trip to Parliament Hill last week. He met with five ministers, one parliamentary secretary and Prime Minister Stephen Harper himself.
The trip led to no dramatic announcements – these kinds of meetings rarely do – but it likely laid the groundwork for future favours.
Fentie spoke with Justice Minister Robert Nicholson about the need for more supports for inmates with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.
He pressed Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq for funds to continue Yukon’s new land-based treatment program.
He spoke with John Duncan, minister of Indian and Northern Affairs, about the need to provide more support to the governments of Yukon’s three First Nations that lack final agreements.
And, while Finance Minister Jim Flaherty was away on travel, Fentie spoke with Ted Menzies, Flaherty’s parliamentary secretary, about discontent in Yukon’s civil service over changes to the federally controlled pension program. Menzies vowed that bugs in the system would be ironed out by April.
Fentie also told Menzies that he’s not interested in joining the other two territories in their push to lift their debt ceilings. Yukon is currently able to borrow $300 million, and it has no plans to exceed that limit, said Fentie. Yukon’s debt is currently approximately $150 million, he said.
“We still have a lot of room, and we have no intention of using it.”
Federal officials continued to offer assurances that the territorial transfers would remain safe as Ottawa begins to look for fat to trim from its expenditures. The fate of additional health transfers, set to soon expire, remain an open question, but Fentie says he’s “not worried about it.”
Contact John Thompson at email@example.com.