Piers McDonald picked for Yukon Energy board seat

Premier Dennis Fentie has received a list of four candidates to fill vacant seats on the Yukon Energy Corporation's board of directors.

Premier Dennis Fentie has received a list of four candidates to fill vacant seats on the Yukon Energy Corporation’s board of directors.

Former premier Piers McDonald, Carcross First Nation executive director Justin Ferbey, mining and environmental consultant Diane Lister and Northwestel executive Jason Bilsky have made the final cut in a months-long search for new board members, according to an anonymous source.

McDonald, who was premier between 1996 and 2000, denies his interest in the position is related to the controversies of the past year, which included Fentie’s secret plans to privatize Yukon Energy.

“It’s obviously gone through a rough period and my interest in joining the board has nothing to do with the issues of the past,” said McDonald.

“I’m clearly a person who believes in public ownership of energy generation assets, but apart from that, this is not making a partisan statement at all to or against anybody.”

The four director positions were vacated in June 2009 when former chair Willard Phelps led a mass exodus over Fentie’s secret plans to sell the public utility to ATCO – plans he kept from board members and cabinet.

McDonald took exception to the suggestion Fentie was using him as a fig leaf to cover up the last year’s ATCO imbroglio.

“That would be a very unfair characterization,” he said. “All that happened between the public utility and ATCO is a matter of public record and there’s nothing that’s going to change that.”

McDonald, who is seeking the chair position, also chaired the cabinet committee that organized the sale of the Yukon’s utility assets to a territory-owned corporation from the federally run Northern Canada Power Corporation in the mid-1980s.

“I think the energy corporation plays a pivotal role in the development of the territory,” he said. “I felt I could provide some experience and assistance in helping the board along to help it meet its mandates.”

McDonald currently works at the property management company Cliff Consulting. He chairs the board of Northern Vision Development and sits on the boards of Golden Predator and Northwestel.

Lister is a principal in Altura Environmental Consulting, a Marsh Lake-based company. And Bilsky is vice-president and chief financial officer of Northwestel.

Fentie, who is also minister responsible for Yukon Energy, received the list late last week, said president David Morrison, who would not provide the names of the candidates.

But before the appointments are made, the shortlist must be vetted by the standing committee on appointments to major government boards and committees, said Morrison.

The committee’s next meeting is Monday.

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