Whitehorse Daily Star

Liberals construct their shadow cabinet

Following the Oct. 10 election and last Saturday's swearing-in of Liberal MLAs, the official Opposition has announced the critic responsibilities for its caucus.

By Whitehorse Star on October 25, 2006

Following the Oct. 10 election and last Saturday's swearing-in of Liberal MLAs, the official Opposition has announced the critic responsibilities for its caucus.

Party leader Arthur Mitchell will be responsible for the Executive Council Office and Finance. He will also be sharing the Health and Social Services portfolio with Mayo-Tatchun MLA Eric Fairclough.

'It's a big and important department,' Mitchell said Tuesday, adding it wasn't a complicated decision to tag-team the portfolio.

Mitchell said he and Fairclough will be addressing different sections of the department.

Fairclough will also be taking on the critic role for Community Services, Education, the Public Service Commission, Yukon Liquor Corp. and Yukon Housing Corp. He is also the party's whip.

Mitchell said it's important for a rural member to speak on Community Services because there are so many issues outside of Whitehorse that must be addressed.

Fairclough served as the critic for the environment during the spring sitting of the legislature, but that portfolio has now moved to new Vuntut Gwitchin MLA Darius Elias.

Elias, an environmental assessment officer, seemed like the appropriate choice for the portfolio, said Mitchell, considering his strong interest in the area.

Elias, the son of former NDP MLA Norma Kassi, has been involved in many local, regional and international causes over the years as a member of the Vuntut Gwitchin Trust, the Fishing Branch local planning team, the Vuntut National Park management planning team, the North Yukon Planning Commission, the North Yukon Fish and Wildlife management team and various Gwitchin educational tours.

Elias will also take on Tourism and Culture and the Women's Directorate.

He expressed interest in both portfolios, said Mitchell, adding the young MLA was encouraged to ask for the responsibility of the Women's Directorate by his community of Old Crow.

Elias, 34, is the youngest member of the Liberal caucus and will be serving as its chair.

'It's refreshing,' said Mitchell. 'It keeps all us know-it-alls in line.'

It's a confidence-building experience, he added, and provides a good opportunity to learn more about the political process.

Don Inverarity is also bringing fresh eyes and a fresh voice to the Liberal caucus after the close verdict in Porter Creek South Pat Duncan's former stronghold until her decision not to run in the 2006 campaign.

Inverarity will serve as critic for Economic Development, Justice and the Yukon Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board.

Inverairty's business-oriented background, which includes acting as a past director of the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce and as an employer representative for the Yukon Workers' Compensation Appeal Tribunal, contributed to the decision on his portfolios, said Mitchell.

Though departments like Environment and Justice can be some bigger and more prominent responsibilities for MLAs, Mitchell said the newbies are up to the task.

'They are all MLAs and everyone needs to work hard,' he said.

However, it is the more experienced MLAs in the caucus who are taking on more portfolios, Mitchell added.

Veteran Kluane representative Gary McRobb rounds out the slate, continuing his responsibilities for Energy, Mines and Resources.

McRobb will also serve as critic for the Yukon Energy Corp., Yukon Development Corp. and Highways and Public Works.

It's a reflection of McRobb's former days as a consumer advocate, said Mitchell.

McRobb is also the party's house leader.

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