Premier Darrell Pasloski’s public meeting in Whitehorse, as part of his community tour, was a humdrum affair.
Of the two-dozen people who attended the gathering in the Gold Rush Inn on Friday afternoon, only a few could not be counted as either party hacks or reporters.
Various theories were proposed for the poor turnout. The soggy weather, voter apathy and the sparse advertising for the event may have all played a part.
Pasloski had his own idea.
“Maybe it’s a reflection of how busy people are, and how good things are going,” he said.
Other community visits have proven more lively. In Carcross, residents kicked up a fuss over the new roadwork. As a result, territorial officials have tweaked the designs so that there’s now parking in front of the post office.
Judging by most of the tepid questions aimed at Pasloski in Whitehorse, you’d think Carcross parking was the biggest controversy facing the territory.
It all probably suited Pasloski fine, who’s approach as the autumn election looms is clearly to avoid rocking the boat and to say as little as possible.
Lewis Hartland wanted the territory to consider providing closed captioning for the legislature’s televised proceedings. He lost his hearing to spinal meningitis at infancy.
His request was translated by his son, Samson, who is the Yukon Party’s candidate for Takhini-Kopper King.
Pasloski referred the request to Janet Moodie, deputy minister of the executive council office. She assured Hartland she’d pass the query on to Floyd McCormick, the legislature’s clerk.
Dan Curtis, the Liberal candidate for Riverdale South, asked what the territory plans to do to boost the number of trades apprentices.
Parts of Yukon College’s industrial wing are currently empty enough that “you can shoot a gun off and not hit anybody,” said Curtis. Meanwhile, automobile shops are considering shuttering for lack of apprentices, who are being scooped up by mining exploration outfits, he said.
Pasloski agreed education was important, but he didn’t make any commitments. After an awkward pause, Curtis tried again.
Would the territory renew its funding commitments with the Yukon Mine Training Association? The organization’s contract with the territory lapses this spring.
Again, Pasloski made encouraging sounds, without offering an outright commitment to do anything.
The most poignant question came last. It was put by a soft-spoken Deborah Silverfox, who asked whether the territory would act on the recommendations of a task force that examined how the government treats hardcore alcoholics.
Her brother, Raymond, died in RCMP custody in December of 2008. While he vomited and soiled himself for more than 13 hours, guards and RCMP officers looked on and mocked Silverfox as he slowly succumbed to an acute infection caused from inhaling his own vomit.
“I just want to make sure something like that won’t happen again,” said Silverfox.
There’s a new and improved drunk tank being built by the territory, said Pasloski. It adjoins the new jail.
Bruce Beaton, a doctor who helped author the task force recommendations, has called the secure-assessment centre a good “first step,” but, by itself, a long way from the more comprehensive solution he’s proposed: a 24-hour accessible shelter and a well-equipped detoxification centre, located downtown.
The Yukon Party is looking for a new candidate for Whitehorse Centre, following Lana Putnam’s decision to withdraw her name on Friday.
Putnam’s political aspirations were spurred by the suicide of her son, Christopher, in January. She’s called for improved services for teenagers struggling with alcohol and drug addictions.
“As I began campaigning I found the loss of my son is too fresh and the wounds too deep,” she said in a release.
“The citizens of Whitehorse Centre deserve 100 per cent commitment from their candidate and, at this time, I am unable to put forth the energy and focus required of me. For these reasons, it is with regret I am withdrawing from the campaign for Whitehorse Centre.”
The Yukon Party expects to have a new potential candidate announced within the next week, said Premier Darrell Pasloski.
The riding is held by NDP Leader Liz Hanson. The Liberals are running Patrick Singh, a downtown businessman.
Other than in the downtown riding, the Yukon Party has a complete election roster in place. The Liberals are nearly ready. The NDP still must name half of their candidates.
Kluane kerfuffle kept quiet
The Yukon Party is standing by its Kluane candidate, Wade Istchenko, despite complaints by contender Mike Crawshey that the narrowly-won race was marred by “irregularities.”
The party’s executive has looked into the complaint and ruled everything to be above board. Crawshey, a Haines Junction councillor and past Yukon Party candidate, wouldn’t comment on the dispute.
Istchenko is co-chair of Alsek Renewable Resources Council. He’s up against the Liberals’ Timothy Cant and the NDP’s Eric Stinson.
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