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Cabinet offers new faces in many portfolios

Premier Sandy Silver unveiled his new cabinet early Monday evening, and it’s one that looks a lot like his old cabinet.

By Tim Giilck on May 4, 2021

Revised - Premier Sandy Silver unveiled his new cabinet early Monday evening, and it’s one that looks a lot like his old cabinet.

All of the cabinet ministers from the last government are back, other than former MLA Pauline Frost, some with new roles and some with former positions.

Most have retained responsibility for at least one of their former assignments.

The big winner appears to be Tracy-Anne McPhee, who was awarded the deputy premier’s position along with Health and Social Services, replacing Frost.

“I think Tracy McPhee is an extremely competent colleague, and she also had an extremely huge role in the last legislative session,” Silver said.

“We’re missing Pauline today for sure, but we have tremendous depth in this team and we will carry on.”

Silver said the deputy premier’s position could have gone to any of the ministers, but he said he was very impressed with McPhee’s handling of the Justice and Education portfolios and house leader.

“She’s showed great leadership in all of those.”

Silver said it was “always the intention to move that role around between cabinet ministers,” but that simply didn’t happen in the last regime.

Silver’s first government – sworn in on Dec. 3, 2016 – was noteworthy for its lack of a single cabinet shuffle over its term in office.

That’s a very rare situation. Most governments would have had at least one shuffle during a term, if not more.

John Streicker was another major winner Monday, accepting what could be seen as promotions to more important departments in Energy, Mines and Resources, and the minister responsible for the Yukon Development and Energy corporations.

He will also be the minister responsible for the Public Service Commission, succeeding Richard Mostyn.

Streicker continues as the minister responsible for the French Language Services Directorate.

Ranj Pillai, who had been the deputy premier for almost five years, retains the portfolio of Economic Development.

He becomes the minister of Tourism and Culture, succeeding Jeanie McLean, and will be responsible for the Yukon Housing and Liquor corporations, and minister responsible for Yukon Lottery Commission.

McLean will be the minister of Education and continues on as the minister responsible for Women’s Directorate.

Mostyn is the new minister of Community Services, succeeding Streicker, and the minister responsible for the Yukon Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board. Mostyn was a communications official for the board before he entered politics in 2016.

Nils Clarke, the former Speaker of the legislature, takes over from Mostyn as minister of Highways and Public Works, and minister of the Environment, one of Frost’s former portfolios.

At a news conference following the swearing-in at the Yukon Government Main Administration Building, Silver agreed the selections are very similar to a cabinet shuffle, considering the continuity from his first government.

“This time, the breadth of knowledge we’re garnered over the last 4 1/2 years really helped me in making those decisions,” the premier said.

“This time, I considered and consulted more with my members. I asked them about their experiences over the last 4 1/2 years. So it was a lot more complicated this time around, but it was easier as well because of the experienced team in front of me.

“Some things have stayed the same while some things have changed. You’re going to see a lot more opportunity for each individual to step up. We are now turning a page on how to work together with the experience we have.”

Silver has also chosen to nominate his sole rookie MLA, Jeremy Harper (Mayo Tatchun) to be the Speaker. After the cabinet selection, Harper was the sole Liberal backbencher in the minority government, which will be supported by the three-member NDP caucus in a formal agreement unveiled last Thursday.

Silver talked up Harper’s leadership skills, and his willingness to take on such an important position as a complete neophyte.

“He has incredible values, and his experience has prepared him for this position,” Silver said in a statement on the planned nomination.

“He understands the value of treating all sides fairly and the importance of each MLA position. I know he will create a collaborative, civil environment full of good will.”

“I am honoured Premier Silver would consider me for this position,” said Harper, a member of the Selkirk First Nation.

“Should I become the Speaker, I will do my part to ensure all members are heard and treated equally.”

Later in Monday’s news conference, Silver paid his first public homage to Frost, who is now challenging the April 12 election results in the Vuntut Gwitchin riding in the courts.

He praised Frost for “dedicating her life to health and social service for the last 4 1/2 years,” and for serving in a variety of roles in cabinet besides that.

“She’s been a leader is so many different roles, and she was instrumental for us in getting the vaccine distributed,” Silver said.

“Right now, we’re feeling the loss of her very impressive leadership.”

After a 78-78 tie vote on election night, NDP MLA Annie Blake won the riding by a judicial draw held April 19.

The Liberals have gone to the Yukon Supreme Court to challenge the eligibility of two voters. A case management session – closed to the public – was held late last week.

Silver was also quizzed on the agreement struck with the NDP.

He said many people have reached out to him with advice on how to govern in a minority situation, and in partnership with the NDP.

He said he is grateful for all the input, but that ultimately, the Liberals will have to find their own way.

Commissioner Angélique Bernard swore in the new lineup. While previous cabinets have been sworn in before large crowds on Saturday mornings in the building’s foyer, Monday’s event was closed to the public due to COVID-19 restrictions.

It was announced Tuesday afternoon that the legislature will reconvene May 11, with a Speech from the Throne, since the retabled 2021-22 fiscal year budget must be passed. Silver continues as the minister of Finance.

“I am pleased to announce we will reconvene the legislature swiftly, and we look forward to tabling a revised budget,” Silver said in a statement.

“Our capable cabinet has been sworn in and I have announced who I intend to nominate as Speaker; we are well on our way. I am excited to continue serving Yukoners.”

This is the territory’s third Liberal government. Pat Duncan, now the territory’s senator, led a Liberal regime from 2000 to 2002.

Yukon Party Leader Currie Dixon said Tuesday afternoon his caucus “looks forward to working with the new ministers to try and improve the lives of all Yukoners.

“In particular, we will be pushing the government to ensure that life remains affordable for families while also advocating for better support of the territory’s business community,” Dixon said.

“One disappointment in this new cabinet was the demotion of minister Pillai and removing him from Energy, Mines, and Resources, as he was the sole member of the left-wing Liberal-NDP coalition who was pro-mining and had strong relationships with industry.

“We look forward to getting back into the legislative assembly, and bringing the issues we heard during the campaign to the floor of the assembly for discussion.”

Comments (24)

Up 2 Down 6

Sourdough on May 8, 2021 at 12:52 pm

Congratulations Sandy and Kate, to find a way to work together.
The only fly in the soup is now John, the wolf in sheepskin, who told me straight in my face the Yukon needs an oil and gas development. Then he was still president of the Green Party. John, I hope you changed your thinking and became real green. The Yukon has the opportunity as an electric grid island to do it our way. To become self sufficient by using as much green renewable energy as possible. Including Ground Source Heat and wood biomass to gasify to run generator engines as a back up when solar or wind are lacking. Don’t listen to the fossilized brains, do inform yourselves.

Up 3 Down 3

TheHammer on May 6, 2021 at 9:27 pm

JustSayin@ I could respond to your comments which are ludicrous, but it would be a waste of time, you need an education, you need culture, "You people have been here for 500 years, we know everything about your culture, but you know nothing about ours." Seneca Chief of the Six Nations, Yukon story telling festival.

Up 5 Down 4

Corn pop on May 6, 2021 at 7:35 pm

The communications of these elected folks is a public record. You, I or anyone else are free to access that information via an ATIPP request.
I’d lay good money on someone doing that already to peel back the seedy underbelly of the YP. Things could get even uglier.

I’ll make some popcorn.

Up 7 Down 8

JustSayin' on May 6, 2021 at 1:08 pm

He is also a contractor and an indigenous (Tahltan) member. He has contributed to the community through hockey and various other sport related activities.

Up 10 Down 2

Ha! Ha! on May 6, 2021 at 10:48 am

Reminds me of Frank Sinatra's song - "Send in the Clowns"

The refrain:

"Don't you love farce?
My fault, I fear
I thought that you'd want what I want
Sorry, my dear!
But where are the clowns
Send in the clowns
Don't bother, they're here"

Up 17 Down 4

Yukoner32 on May 5, 2021 at 9:38 pm

@Klaus - The Clayton being referred to is Clayton Thomas. He is very tight with Currie, Wade, Stacy and Scott Kent. He is one of the main guys leading the anti-lockdown protests and who put forward the legal challenge back before we even started getting vaccinated. He also just wrote an opinion piece in the Star about how horrible the Liberals are and how great Currie Dixon is.

If you go even further back in the news cycle, you will see he is the same guy who got in trouble for shooting wolves out by Mt.Sima as well.

Up 20 Down 6

Tater on May 5, 2021 at 3:29 pm

What new faces? It's the same bunch from last term, shuffled.

Up 21 Down 20

Isn't there a law against this? on May 5, 2021 at 2:24 pm

Isn't it illegal to share private text messages to the public?
Moreover, isn't there laws about sharing information that isn't for the public good but is there to create embarrassment or shame?

Rehtaeh Parsons so easily forgotten.

Up 6 Down 6

JustSayin' on May 5, 2021 at 1:45 pm

"Canadian education is not global, it's Canadian and it's racist, just like your comment."

You amuse me. You validated my point about having a global education system as the "Canadian education" is not global. It does need to change, but one sided education system(s) are not relevant in today's World. Stories(s) all stories, from all over the WORLD should be studied, from those of Kipling, Mr. King, Paulo Coelho, Tanya Talaga, need to be present in the education system. Everyone's views, cultures need to be present in the education system or none at all.

If my comment is racist as you have determined, than yours is as well, without any substantiated proof on your part. You do not present any ideas about other oppressed cultures, identities who are present in the Yukon, but are not represented in the school education system. ...Global education, not just what is the backyard.

Up 7 Down 10

TheHammer on May 5, 2021 at 11:16 am

JustSayin@ "..I would like to see students coming through the school system have a global understanding.." Canadian education is not global, it's Canadian and it's racist, just like your comment. "our stories are like the bible..' Tagish elder. Yukon First Nations traditional stories contain universal symbols found in the world's highest religions. Julie Cruikshank's anthropological works on Yukon First Nations culture have entered the curriculum of UK universities. The works of Joseph Epes Brown on Native American religions have a global following.

Up 13 Down 2

Klaus G. on May 5, 2021 at 9:09 am

You can't make comments on the texting scandal so I'll try here. Who is "Clayton" in the screenshot of the texts right at the very end WI says "Your right Clayton"?
Also with no story to cover (surprise, surprise) The White River first nation does not accept Curries inadequate handling of this heinous affair.
People are taking shelter to no avail.

Up 23 Down 10

Anybody but McPhee..... on May 4, 2021 at 11:16 pm

Great that McPhee is not in education anymore. Anybody would do a better job than she did. Secretive, unsupportive, getting rid of IEP's, and never consulting with anybody on anything.... Hopefully Minister McClean can repair some of damage done.

Up 28 Down 1

Arthur Mitchell on May 4, 2021 at 8:50 pm

Kerry Huff, the late John Edzerza was the Minister of Education for part of Premier Fentie’s term. Jeannie is the second but the first FN woman to hold this post.

Up 31 Down 14

George on May 4, 2021 at 7:03 pm

Doesn’t really matter does since Sandy signed agreement making Kate minister of everything in exchange for enough time for his MLA’s to be eligible for pension. That’s what lib supporters get; a far left agenda.

Up 23 Down 13

bonanzajoe on May 4, 2021 at 5:08 pm

Dissappointed. The YLP actually did a good job? When and how? They shut down industry and increased government workers. They raised the debt and deficit and increased the welfare rolls. Alcohol and drug use has increased. Drug overdose deaths have also increased on their watch. And so much more. Good job? Not!

Up 21 Down 11

bonanzajoe on May 4, 2021 at 5:04 pm

Streicker. We can say goodbye to Yukon mining and hello to grass and forests. Hope they can make some money off them.

Up 15 Down 14

bonanzajoe on May 4, 2021 at 4:59 pm

A gaggle of commie indoctrinated leftys. Get ready for a debt and deficit that will never be paid off. Just like JT in Ottawa. Good luck kids. Don't blame the Conservatives for the irreparable damage you're inheriting. Even they will never be able to repair it.

Up 64 Down 13

Stricker.. fml on May 4, 2021 at 4:20 pm

The former president of the green party is the head of Energy and mines... FML

Up 44 Down 18

JustSayin' on May 4, 2021 at 4:17 pm

@Kerry Huff
What does being first nations have to do with education? I do not care of one's gender, culture etc, I would like the students coming through the school system have a global understanding, not just an understanding of one's backyard. I feel Minster Dendy's is far, far better than McPhee and am thrilled to see the change.

Up 16 Down 47

CaptainObvious on May 4, 2021 at 4:07 pm

The YP should have volunteered to fill the roles of Speaker and Deputy Speaker AND sit out the Speaker and two others on confidence votes for the next two years. But no, it wasn't smart enough to rise above the "poaching" mentality. SAD.

Up 34 Down 65

Sunny Ways on May 4, 2021 at 3:50 pm

@ Dissappointed
Many voters (ie the majority) chose ABC. Anyone But Conservatives.

This is a tenuous government that will be forced to work together (with zero help from the fratboys across the aisle) and that is a good thing for Yukoners.

Up 60 Down 27

Dissappointed on May 4, 2021 at 3:27 pm

YLP ... You've stopped listening, your heads are down and you're wound up in your own politics. That behaviour was the deathknell for Pasloski and his YP. You guys gave some of us hope in 2016. You actually did a pretty good job IMO, but since, you've sold out to cling to power, you've prioritized the interests and taken the advice of a few as opposed to many - all things you said you'd never do and never be back in 2016.

Up 53 Down 15

Al on May 4, 2021 at 2:49 pm

So, there you have it:
Harper had no choice but to be Speaker.
As for a great team - my sides hurt from laughing so much. It was good to see Mostyn demoted - I will give that. It will sting his ego - but he will still keep smiling every time pay day comes along...

Up 43 Down 58

Kerry Huff on May 4, 2021 at 2:26 pm

I would like to applaud Premier Sandy Silver for appointing what I believe to be our first First Nation Minister of Education. Congratulations Jeanie and good luck with the many challenges ahead. I look forward to seeing how you guide this extremely important department through the years ahead and what new directions may be in store.

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