The Yukon Party has released its full platform ahead of the Nov. 7 territorial election, including promises for a new mineral exploration tax credit, improvements to medical travel and explicit recognition of the rights of transgender people in the Yukon Human Rights Act.
“Our platform is full of concrete actions which we will build upon that will benefit Yukon families and Yukon business,” Yukon Party Leader Darrell Pasloski said during a press conference on Thursday.
He also mentioned no fewer than 16 times during the 15-minute event that the Yukon Party will “stand up” for Yukon, Yukoners and the resource sector.
The Yukon Party wants to create a new mineral exploration tax credit, capped at $2 million a year, for mining companies working in the territory. The credit would complement a federal tax credit that has existed since 2000.
It also says it will keep lobbying the federal government to reverse a shortfall in the territorial transfer payment that left Yukon with $6.5 million less than it expected to receive this year.
The Yukon Party also plans to change the territory’s medical travel system to allow people to claim the $75 per diem subsidy on their first day of travel, which they currently cannot do.
Other health-related commitments include a pledge to regulate midwifery and to provide a free land grant for construction of the Vimy Heritage Housing facility.
The platform also includes a commitment to enshrine the rights of transgender people in the Yukon Humans Rights Act within 12 months, something the party has thus far refused to do, claiming gender identity was already covered in the legislation under the umbrella of sex and sexual orientation. The party also plans to update the Vital Statistics Act to prevent transgender people from having to undergo sex reassignment surgery before being allowed to change their gender on official documents.
The party also says it will create a Missing Persons Act to help the RCMP gather more information and better respond to missing persons cases.
Other proposed legislative changes include a commitment to modify the Elections Act to ensure that any change to how Yukoners vote is subject to a referendum, something many Conservative MPs have been calling for during federal electoral reform discussions.
The Yukon Party also says it will limit campaign contributions by individuals, companies and unions. The NDP has long been pushing for an outright ban on donations from companies and unions, but a bill introduced by the party was scuttled this year.
Regarding energy, the Yukon Party is promising $100 million in retrofits to schools and Yukon government and First Nation buildings, as well as $10 million to continue next generation hydro planning, including the consideration of small-scale hydro and other renewable energy projects.
It also says it will develop a clear mandate for flood response in Yukon communities.
The party also wants to lobby the federal government for a dedicated infrastructure fund for Yukon First Nations, as First Nations in the Yukon are not eligible for existing on-reserve federal funding.
And it plans to negotiate a new resource-sharing agreement with First Nations.
Other commitments include the construction of a winter road to Old Crow every three years, a possible new visitor information centre in Watson Lake and the conversion of old library space into a home for the Yukon Permanent Art Collection, including a public gallery.
During his announcement, Pasloski focused heavily on fighting a carbon tax, though he still provided no details about how he plans to stand up to Ottawa on the issue. He said a recommendation on carbon pricing prepared by the country’s environment ministers earlier this month includes language that “will potentially exempt Yukon from a carbon tax.”
“Opposing the carbon tax scheme” is also the very first commitment listed in the party’s platform.
Earlier this week, Liberal Leader Sandy Silver suggested the Yukon Party uses “grandiose promises that are made at the 11th hour to win an election.”
Certainly, a number of big-ticket items in the Yukon Party’s platform, including a second fibre line up the Dempster Highway, a new transmission line between Mayo and Keno, and new roads to the Coffee, Casino and Selwyn mining projects, come with no firm commitments, no budgets and no timelines.
But Pasloski said his party is committed to those projects.
“These are projects that are very important to this territory, not just for the short-term benefits of creating infrastructure but for the long-term benefits for continued growth in our economy.”
Contact Maura Forrest at firstname.lastname@example.org