Taylor made official proxy premier

Last session, cabinet minister Elaine Taylor spent a lot of time covering for a sick Dennis Fentie. Now, her role as deputy premier is official.

Last session, cabinet minister Elaine Taylor spent a lot of time covering for a sick Dennis Fentie.

Now, her role as deputy premier is official.

On Wednesday, Fentie appointed Taylor his second in command.

Taylor serves as minister of Tourism and Culture and for the Women’s Directorate.

When Fentie is indisposed — either in meetings, out of the territory or ill — Taylor will act in his place.

That could include national events, such as government-to-government meetings or industry conferences, and answering questions in the legislature.

Fentie is currently in Vancouver for a national climate change summit and a council of the federation meeting.

There is no guideline for what events the deputy premier will attend, said Taylor.

“It’s difficult to say which events — things do come up from time to time and we can appreciate that (Fentie) is torn in three directions at once,” she said.

“When and if required, I, in my capacity in this new role, will be able to take on that responsibility. It’ll be judged on a case-by-case basis.”

The appointment validates a role Taylor’s filled for several months.

Taylor covered for Fentie during the last legislature session while he recuperated from surgery. Fentie had a tumour removed from his bladder last October.

Fentie, who holds the Finance and Environment ministries, returned to work earlier this month.

During a legislative session dominated by money issues, Taylor spent much time fielding financial questions from the opposition.

Many suggest that the title hints at a succession plan unfolding within the Yukon Party ranks.

Asked about her leadership ambitions, Taylor proved coy.

“I’m focused on continuing to serve my constituents of Whitehorse West and serving Yukoners as minister of Tourism and Culture and the Women’s Directorate,” she said.

“This added responsibility lends me the ability to act on the premier’s behalf when required.”

Pressed whether she wanted the leadership, she did not say no.

“We have a really busy agenda ahead of us and we are very much focused on meeting the commitments from the last election.”

Fentie is not stepping out of the limelight, said Taylor.

“If anything, this announcement is actually formalizing the actual position of deputy premier,” she said.

Fentie is doing well and is very busy in his job, she added.

“He has a lot of responsibility. This announcement will help build that capacity and share the workload.

“On relatively short notice, the premier wasn’t able to continue his duties in the fall — for very good reason — and I stepped up and I would see a continuation of that if it occurs again.”

Taylor also holds the chair positions on the legislative overview committee, the cabinet committee on legislation and the standing committee on appointments to major government boards and committees.

First elected in Whitehorse West in 2002, Taylor won re-election in 2006. She has served in cabinet since her first election.

Politics is like motherhood, said Taylor, who has one child.

“You’re always on the run and looking out for your children and looking out for your constituents,” said Taylor.

“I really enjoy what I do. It’s a real privilege.”

In most provinces, the deputy premier often serves as interim premier until a new leader is chosen.

Former prime minister Jean Chretien is the only former deputy prime minister to lead a federal government.

Longtime Yukon MP Erik Nielsen was deputy premier for almost two years in the Brian Mulroney government.