ELECTION NOTEBOOK 2006
How’s this for an incumbent election strategy: re-announce stuff your party did when it was in government, and hope the retreads will convince voters to give you second shot.
Such was the Yukon Party’s strategy during the first week of the territorial election campaign.
While the Liberals offered a $250 individual income tax cut and the NDP promised to establish a consensus-style economic council, the YP had nothing new.
On Tuesday leader Dennis Fentie affirmed his commitment to implement the Substance Abuse Action Plan his government announced in the spring.
“What’s new is that we are committed to deliver treatment programs,” said Fentie.
Thursday, the Yukon Party announced it would let seniors stay independent longer through homecare.
“What we’re trying to emphasize is our plans to increase the investment in home care,” said Health Minister Brad Cathers, who lacked hard numbers or information about the plan.
And once people grow too old to stay home, they need somewhere to go.
So the Yukon Party repeated it will finish work on the Watson Lake multi-level care facility, to build another facility in Dawson City and to build a seniors’ facility in Haines Junction — all things promised over the course of the Yukon Party’s four-year mandate, with funding commitments.
And, in a release, it announced the 44-bed Thomson Centre has reopened.
But it hasn’t, said Cathers.
And he doesn’t know when it will.
“It would be premature to give a specific date,” he said.
According to former Health minister Peter Jenkins, there’s a tonne of work left to be done before the centre can re-open.
There are no sprinklers, no fire alarms, and the doors are not hung, said Jenkins, who was kicked off the Health file in November when he was expelled from cabinet.
The roof still leaks and there’s still black mould that caused the closure in the first place, he told The News on Monday.
Not true, said Cathers.
However, there are no beds or nurse-call system — heck there are no nurses or other staff hired yet.
Otherwise, the building is ship-shape, he said.
“The bulk of the work and all of the structural issues have all been addressed.”
Jenkins pegged the Thomson Centre retrofit at $10 million.
Health officials offered a more conservative estimate of $2.4 million over three years.
But the fact the Thomson Centre might reopen is nothing new, either.
Cathers talked about it a couple of weeks ago.
Maybe next week a mine will open, and Fentie will have something tangible to announce.
Tuton reigns again
Craig Tuton is managing the Yukon Party’s campaign for re-election?
But the chair of the Yukon Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board said he was bowing out of this one.
Tuton made some off-the-cuff remarks at a news conference in late July, during the casual banter that typically precedes a news conference.
Back then, Tuton said, ‘I’m out.’
Though he managed the Yukon Party’s victorious campaign in 2002, he would be staying on the sidelines for this one, he said.
“I always say that,” said Tuton with a grin Tuesday.
“I’ve been involved for years. I’m always involved.”
Tuton has managed Yukon Party campaigns for more than a decade.
Well, once politics gets into the blood you can never really get it out, can you?
Still, you’ve got to be careful.
Tuton raised eyebrows when he helped the Yukon Party win in 2002, helped the transition of government, and was promptly appointed to chair the workers’ compensation board, a $500 per day job required a few days each month. It was the second time he’d been appointed to the board by a Yukon Party government.
He was handed the job over Arthur Mitchell, the board’s co-chair who had received more support from the board’s stakeholders.
And eyebrows rose again when, on Thursday, Tuton was appointed chair of the Yukon Hospital Corporation — the day before Fentie dropped the writ.
Tuton covered his butt somewhat, insisting that the $200 per diem offered members of the board be donated directly to the Yukon Hospital Foundation, which he has long supported.
So Tuton won’t be paid for the short meetings — perhaps four hours a month — that the board hosts, he said.
“I’m basically donating my time,” said Tuton.
“I’ve got a pretty good understanding of corporate governance.”
Tuton said he’s got experience governing the transitions of three presidents at the workers’ compensation board, and that’s why he was tapped to oversee the transition at the hospital corporation.
Ron Brown, its president, resigned in June, said Tuton.
“I’m not in it for gain or for financial gain.
“And I only committed to doing it for six months.
“I’m only doing it to help them get through this transition period.” (GM)
The lunch tab
Fentie had no business setting up a chamber of commerce luncheon that charged about 120 attendees $25 each for the meal and then using the audience to launch an election, says the NDP.
The Yukon Party should pick up the tab for Friday’s High Country Inn luncheon, where Fentie announced the October 10 election date, leader-in-absentia Todd Hardy said in a Monday release.
“We need to end this kind of abuse of the public purse,” said Hardy.
Fentie should have announced the election in a neutral location and addressed all Yukoners, rather than politicizing an event sponsored by a private business organization, he said.
Hardy wants Fentie and his political staff to pay for their own meals at the joint luncheon of the Yukon and Whitehorse chambers of commerce, or else declare the event a campaign expense.
The party should reimburse anyone who attended the luncheon not knowing it was a campaign kickoff, added Hardy.
Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce chair Rick Karp disagrees.
The Yukon Party should “absolutely not” pay for Friday’s luncheon, said Karp.
“We want and we approach the leaders of each party to come and speak to us.
“The premier wanted to make this an election speech, and it was with the Yukon chamber who then made it a joint luncheon.
“I see no problem with that at all.
“Mr. Hardy had the opportunity in June to speak and when he did he introduced (the idea of) making Yukon College a university.
“So that became a platform for the NDP.
“Should he pay for that luncheon?
“If we’re going to do it for one let’s do it for them all.” (GM)