Former Yukon Party Speaker of the House Ted Staffen has a new job.
He’s now Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq’s man on the ground in Whitehorse.
“I assist with issues that arise,” said Staffen this week.
“It’s a new position,” he added. “So flexibility is key.”
Aglukkaq is opening a regional office in each of Canada’s three territories.
Staffen knows where the Whitehorse office will be.
“But I can’t tell you yet,” he said, with a chuckle.
Setting up the office is “a complicated process,” he added. “It has to be structured so the minister can use it.”
In other words, it needs to be retrofitted for extra “security and privacy,” he said.
The office should be ready by mid-April, said Staffen, who has been working full time out of his home since the middle of December.
As Aglukkaq’s director of regional affairs, Staffen will be “dealing with lots of pan-northern issues,” he said.
To get his “feet on the ground,” Staffen has been working with the other two territorial reps from Nunavut and the Northwest Territories.
He has also met with the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce, the Yukon Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber of Mines.
“I am not a politician,” he said. “But this is a political appointment.
“I am not a federal bureaucrat, I’m working for the minister.”
Staffen will also be working with Yukon MP Ryan Leef and the territory’s only senator, Dan Lang.
“It’s the first time we’ve had a tri-sect,” he said.
The right-wing Yukon Party government is now aligned with the federal Conservative government, the Yukon’s Conservative MP and its Conservative senator, said Staffen.
“So there is a lot of opportunity for Yukoners,” he said.
It’s also the first time a minister from the North is in charge of northern affairs, added Staffen.
In addition to health, Aglukkaq also oversees the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, also known as CanNor.
Once Aglukkaq’s regional office is open, Staffen will be fielding questions from Yukoners.
“But Leef will still be making the announcements,” he said. “I am just here to assist.”
In the last territorial election, Staffen decided not seek a third term.
“I never wanted to be a career politician,” he said, at the time. “I spent most my life in business. We have a great economy and I look forward to getting involved in it.”
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