With the only change to the territorial cabinet being Premier Darrell Pasloski taking over predecessor Dennis Fentie's portfolios, Jim Kenyon has found himself out of the game again.
But Kenyon, the Yukon Party MLA who was fired from cabinet in early May for publicly criticizing Fentie's leadership style, seemed optimistic Monday that he will return to the cabinet with the upcoming territorial election.
"I'm not overly happy about it, but I think things will work themselves out at this point,” Kenyon said in an interview Monday afternoon.
He said he knows Pasloski is waiting to see who will run in the election, as that will give the government some idea of what a new cabinet could look like.
Kenyon explained the historic 1979 Epp letter, which established responsible government in the Yukon, states that the number of cabinet ministers can never outnumber the number of governing party MLAs.
The current number of cabinet ministers is eight, while the number of MLAs is 10.
This is why, he explained, a cabinet minister would have to leave or be fired for Kenyon to re-enter the cabinet.
"I'm assuming that's what's going to happen,” said Kenyon.
Kenyon explained that Brad Cathers, who resigned from the cabinet over the Yukon Energy Corp. privatization furor in 2009, would be in the same situation if he wanted to return to the cabinet.
But Floyd McCormick, the clerk of the Yukon Legislative Assembly, said today it's not that simple.
"This is where is gets a bit complicated,”said McCormick. "The premier is not actually considered to be part of the legislative assembly.”
This means there are seven cabinet members who are MLAs, and one who is not – the premier.
"The premier could probably appoint another MLA to cabinet,” said McCormick.
As for what he thinks the new premier needs to work on right now, Kenyon's answer is simple: affordable housing.
During the leaderhsip campaign, Kenyon said the government has been sitting on $17.5 million in federal housing money for the past five years.
"Pasloski needs to address this pretty quickly,” said Kenyon, formerly the minister responsible for the Yukon Housing Corp. "He needs to release the money to the housing corperation and let them deal with it.”
The housing crisis, said Kenyon, is not only an issue in the Yukon, but is growing into a serious national problem.
"We need apartments, and nobody is building apartments,” he said.
Asked what other issues Pasloski needs to focus on immediately, Kenyon told the Star that housing really is the issue.
"Our economy is booming, we're one of two (along with Alberta) provinces or territories in the country without any debt and we have the highest GDP,” said Kenyon.
The ex-minister has even raised with the government the question of whether the territory's unemployment rate, which at one point in the last several years dipped to under four per cent, is too low.
This means too many people who should be on maternity leave, or not employed due to mental or physical challenges, are working, he said.
"Most economists say around 6.5 per cent is an acceptable rate,”said Kenyon. "We've seen ourselves with the lowest rate in all of North America.”
The former veterinarian and auxiliary RCMP officer believes the Yukon Party has a good chance of winning the election, which would be the third straight term for the party. No party has ever done that in the Yukon.
"And that will really make history,” Kenyon noted.