New Yukon premier shares feds’ pri­or­i­ties

More than a few par­al­lels be­tween Sandy Sil­ver and his fed­eral coun­ter­part

Toronto Star - - CANADA -

DAW­SON CITY, YUKON— Sandy Sil­ver, who took the Yukon Lib­er­als from third-party sta­tus to a ma­jor­ity govern­ment in Mon­day’s ter­ri­to­rial elec­tion, was be­ing coy the morn­ing af­ter.

“Does it re­mind me of any­body?” he asked, all in­no­cence. “It’s amaz­ing. It re­ally is.”

There are more than a few par­al­lels be­tween Sil­ver in Yukon and his fel­low Lib­eral and fed­eral coun­ter­part in Ottawa. Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau is likely to find a new ally in Canada’s north­west cor­ner on two of his most prom­i­nent files: car­bon pol­icy and indige­nous rec­on­cil­i­a­tion.

Sil­ver cam­paigned on a plat­form of work­ing with the fed­eral govern­ment on a new na­tional price on car­bon.

“We’ll do ex­actly what was set out in the Van­cou­ver Pro­to­col,” Sil­ver said Tues­day, re­fer­ring to the agree­ment signed last spring by Trudeau and all the premiers. “Car­bon pric­ing should not be de­signed in a way that im­pedes the growth of the ter­ri­tory.”

He plans to re­turn all car­bon tax money to busi­nesses and con­sumers, but at dif­fer­ing rates. “You can’t have the same amount of re­bate for some­body who lives in White­horse and can take tran­sit to work, com­pared to some­body who lives in ru­ral Yukon,” said Sil­ver, who was speak­ing from his home in Daw­son.

Sil­ver also promised to work bet­ter with abo­rig­i­nal gov­ern­ments. Yukon has 11 of Canada’s 22 self-gov­ern­ing First Na­tions and the re­la­tion­ship un­der the Yukon Party — which led the ter­ri­tory for the last 14 years — was of­ten testy.

The first per­son Sil­ver called Mon­day night af­ter his vic­tory was Grand Chief Peter John­ston of the Yukon Coun­cil of First Na­tions.

Sil­ver said his govern­ment will do its best to hon­our the orig­i­nal plans for the Peel Water­shed, a vast Arc­tic wilder­ness that rep­re­sents 14 per cent of the ter­ri­tory’s area and is highly val­ued by abo­rig­i­nals and in­dus­try. Those plans, the re­sult of years of land-claim ne­go­ti­a­tions, were re­jected and heav­ily mod­i­fied by the pre­vi­ous Yukon govern­ment and are the sub­ject of a Supreme Court hear­ing sched­uled next year.

The premier-elect also said he’ll work with Yukon Lib­eral MP Larry Bag­nell to has­ten the re­peal of fed­eral leg­is­la­tion passed by the Harper Con­ser­va­tives that re­placed an in­de­pen­dent en­vi­ron­men­tal as­sess­ment board with one led by a fed­eral ap­pointee. That leg­is­la­tion was also the sub­ject of abo­rig­i­nal-led law­suits.

Low com­mod­ity prices have made for some tough years re­cently for min­ing, Yukon’s main­stay. But Sil­ver — who met with15 min­ing ex­ec­u­tives in Van­cou­ver be­fore the cam­paign be­gan — said there’s still a fu­ture in the ter­ri­tory for min­ers willing to work with abo­rig­i­nal gov­ern­ments. He points to the steady progress of the Kam­i­nak gold pro­ject south of Daw­son as proof.

His govern­ment will work to bring those par­ties to­gether, he said.

“The one thing that we’ll do bet­ter is have con­ver­sa­tions to­gether.”

There’s more than a whiff of sunny ways to Sil­ver’s promised ap­proach.

“The way that we’ve struc­tured the party fits per­fectly for what Yukon needs — a mod­er­ate govern­ment, a govern­ment that al­lows mem­ber­ship from the left and from the right, con­sen­sus-build­ing, ac­tu­ally hav­ing aparty that mod­els the mo­saic of this ter­ri­tory.”

JOEL KRAHN/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

The Yukon Party was de­throned by the Lib­er­als af­ter 14 years in power.

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