Photo by Whitehorse Star
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.”
Add your comments or reply via Twitter @whitehorsestar
In order to encourage thoughtful and responsible discussion, website comments will not be visible until a moderator approves them. Please add comments judiciously and refrain from maligning any individual or institution. Read about our user comment and privacy policies.
Your name and email address are required before your comment is posted. Otherwise, your comment will not be posted.
- Caps announcement leads to ‘mass confusion and no leadership’: realtor (39)
- Throne Speech combines Liberals’, NDP’s goals (23)
- Mechanism for rent caps plan remains unclear (20)
- Vaccines come under scrutiny in legislature (19)
- Yukon Party, minister spar over rent cap plan (18)
- Yukon Party questions sitting length, rent cap plans (16)
- Another damaged cable, another services outage (14)
- Pfizer vaccine planned for Yukon teenagers (12)