Yukon Party mails in 2002 platform

The Yukon Party has discovered the long tail. In tech parlance, that’s the dusting off of long-lost works.

The Yukon Party has discovered the long tail.

In tech parlance, that’s the dusting off of long-lost works.

Take the party’s platform, released Wednesday.

It has few new commitments, ideas or even slogans. Much of it is a direct copy of the party’s 2002 manifesto.

Leader Dennis Fentie doesn’t deny the new document is a revisiting of the old, viewing the platform as a pledge to continue what’s been started.

“This election is going to dictate, depending on the outcome, where this territory will be in its future,” he said at the party’s headquarters, as party candidates Archie Lang, Jim Kenyon, Vicki Durrant and Jerry Johnson looked on.

The territory will have a balanced budget within a year, said Fentie.

He did not spell out how that balance would be achieved.

But pillars in the Yukon’s economy will be aggressively targeted for growth, he said.

Unlike the Liberal platform, the Yukon Party’s had no numbers attached to it.

“We’re not getting down the same road as the Liberals, throwing down willy-nilly numbers,” he said.

“We do the hard work, we do the planning; we ensure we implement sound fiscal management.”

The platform focuses on quality of life, the economy and good government.

The only addition to the document over 2002 is an environment heading.

Education — part of quality of life commitments — includes promises for a new school curriculum, a school in Copper Ridge, more drug counselors and drug dogs in schools.

Implementing the education-reform project is promised.

The same pledge was made in 2002.

Tougher penalties for drug manufacturing and trafficking, restricting cold medications and chemicals used to make street drugs, and “upgrading and or replacing” Yukon driver licence cards are also pledged.

Putting the Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods Act into action, and building a new correctional facility “or facilities to replace the Whitehorse Correctional Centre” are promised.

A new community harm-reduction fund and education campaigns to combat addictions are also on the list.

The Yukon Party lists childcare as a priority, promising reduced fees, more spaces for children, a five-year plan for day-home operators and childcare centres, and tweaks to the Child Tax Credit.

The environment — a tiny sub-heading in the 2002 platform — is a full section in the 2006 document.

Most commitments have already been announced, such as a cold-climate research centre at Yukon College, increased monitoring of wildlife, including the Porcupine caribou herd, and the party’s 14-page climate-change strategy.

“What we need to really concentrate on is developing measures so that we in the Yukon can adapt to the impacts,” said Fentie of climate change.

Economic commitments — the Yukon Party’s perceived strength — include many new promises, but many rehashed projects as well.

Streamlining the land-application process is new.

“We need to ensure reasonable access and responsible land management,” said Fentie.

A two-year stockpile of residential lots in Whitehorse — which critics say has been allowed to dwindle — will be reinstated.

Construction of Whitehorse’s Hamilton Boulevard extension is promised, as is a framework to guide the government’s use of private-public partnerships, known as P3s.

But there are some clunkers too.

In 2002, the Yukon Party promised to “work towards the development of a territorial-wide electrical grid.”

That hasn’t happened, and the exact same line is in the 2006 platform.

The party promised to “plan the construction of a bridge at Dawson City.”

Again, the exact phrase appears in 2006.

Same goes for upgrading the Top of the World and Robert Campbell highways, development of standards for the hospitality industry, making Kluane National Park more accessible, and sports, recreation, art and culture commitments, among countless others.

Fentie isn’t denying it.

“A lot of what we’re doing here on a go-forward basis with this plan and vision is built from where we started in 2002, and this is a continuance,” he said.

“Our new approach for building Yukon’s economy is to grow the private sector so that it is the driving force behind Yukon’s economy, not government.”

In the platform’s final section — good government — there are few concrete steps listed to improve relationships with First Nation governments, a perceived weakness of the Fentie administration.

The perception is incorrect, said Fentie.

“It’s a misconception to say we need to repair a relationship,” he said.

“Much of this whole misguided concept, that the relationship is bad, conveniently avoids all the positives we’ve accomplished.”

Reviewing the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act and creating whistleblower legislation are promised in the platform, but don’t have timelines.

Whistleblower legislation has been listed as a priority by successive governments. It has never appeared.

The all-party committee created in attempt to pass the legislation was the problem, said Fentie.

 “It turned out to be a fruitless exercise in trying to work with the opposition parties who tried to play politics,” he said.

The Yukon Party’s ethical record has been skewed by outstanding debts owed the government by cabinet ministers, a litany of sole-sourced contracts and cabinet ministers with significant private holdings involved in public decisions.

The NDP and the Liberals have proposed changes to conflict-of-interest legislation, and a code of conduct, respectively.

However no changes to ethics guidelines are proposed in the Yukon Party’s platform.

They’re not needed, said Fentie.

“Our government has followed, to the letter, the direction, counsel and guidance of the conflicts commissioner to ensure there was no perception of conflict and or real conflict,” he said.

He blamed the opposition — “especially the Liberals” — for creating a false perception of ethical rot within the Yukon Party.

In closing, Fentie said the platform, titled Imagine Tomorrow will pick up where his government left off on September 8.

“Now’s the time to maintain direction; now’s the time for continuity, now’s the time to inject into the equation political stability,” he said.