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Premier Sandy Silver

Mandate letters released on eve of one-day sitting

Premier Sandy Silver has released the mandate letters

By Chuck Tobin on January 11, 2017

Premier Sandy Silver has released the mandate letters which will guide him and his six cabinet ministers as they begin their first term in office.

The letters largely reflect promises made in the Liberal party election platform and commitments made during the campaign leading up to the Nov. 7 territorial election.

The vote saw the Liberals win a majority government with 11 of the legislature’s 19 seats.

For instance, in the letter outlining Silver’s direction to himself as minister responsible for the Finance portfolio, there is the commitment to figure out how to provide Yukoners with a rebate of the carbon tax they will pay in the future.

Silver’s Liberals supported the new federal tax as a means of battling climate change, though they promised to return every single penny paid by Yukoners back to Yukoners.

The seven letters posted online are largely form letters with the exception of specific directions to each of the individual cabinet ministers.

Paragraphs common to each of the letters speak to the honesty and integrity cabinet ministers will employ to serve the territory.

“As we advance these priorities, we will work as a cohesive team respecting the collective nature of Cabinet decision making and recognizing that issues do not exist in silos,” reads a commitment comment to each mandate letter.

“They are inter-related and often complex, requiring a ‘one government’ approach. We will also focus on delivering results that improve people’s lives.

“`We will monitor progress on achieving these results and report to, and seek feedback from, Yukon citizens on this progress.”

The letters also instruct individual ministers to work with other ministers where there are issues of common interest.

And they provide specific direction to each minister of each portfolio.

The mandate letter to Environment Minister Pauline Frost instructs the minister to:

• “Work with the Ministers of Justice and Energy, Mines and Resources on collaborating with First Nations on steps towards accepting the final report of the original Peel Watershed Planning Commission pending the outcome of the Supreme Court decision.”

And as the minister for the Yukon Housing Corp., Frost has been directed to increase affordable housing options.

Community Services Minister John Streicker, for instance, has been instructed to establish the June 21 National Aboriginal Day as a statutory Yukon holiday – an initiative originally proposed by former NDP MLA Kevin Barr.

The release of the mandate letters was not prompted by a formal request last week from Yukon Party house leader Scott Kent, Liberal cabinet spokeswoman Sunny Patch said this morning.

She said it was always the premier’s intention to release the letters.

It’s important, she said, to not only make the letters available to the public service which will be responsible for implementing the government’s direction, but also to the general public.

“This is what we heard from Yukoners, what they would like to see,” she said.

“This is what we talked about what we would be doing during the campaign, and that is reflected in the mandate letters.”

In his request for the mandate letters, Kent wrote: “Access to this information will ensure all members are up to date on the issues that matter to their constituents, and in turn it will contribute to a more open and collaborative process in the legislature, to the benefit of all Yukoners and their families.”

The letters were released two days before the legislature is being convened for part of one afternoon on Thursday.

Elected MLAs are going to be asked to confirm the nomination of Riverdale North MLA Nils Clarke as the Liberal Speaker of the legislature.

There will also be appointments to the different all-party legislative committees.

Following the appointments, the legislature will adjourn briefly.

Commissioner Doug Phillips will then deliver the Speech from the Throne, also expected to be brief.

The throne speech generally provides insight into the direction the government will be moving during its five years in office.

Patch said the government will not be bringing forward any business tomorrow.

There’s been no word about when Yukoners can expect Silver to deliver his first territorial budget, which is traditionally brought forward in mid- to late March or early April. The current fiscal year will expire March 31.

Former Yukon Party premier Dennis Fentie, on the other hand, delivered his last budget on Feb. 3, 2011.

Ex-Yukon Party premier Darrell Pasloski delivered his first budget on March 15, 2012.

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