Yukon Premier Darrell Pasloski has shuffled virtually his entire cabinet including a demotion for his most controversial minister.
The shuffle announced Friday follows the unprecedented denouncement of former Community Services minister Brad Cathers by Whitehorse mayor Dan Curtis. Curtis said Cather's refusal to co-operate with Whitehorse city council made any relationship impossible.
The mayor is pleased that Cathers has been replaced on the portfolio by Currie Dixon.
"In terms of working relationships and moving forward I feel like we won the lottery," Curtis says.
"I feel like there are some really good people but I feel like we got the cream of the crop in terms of what we need to work with."
Cathers has been moved to Justice. He's also been demoted from government house leader to deputy house leader.
Vuntut Gwitchin MLA Darius Elias is now government house leader and caucus chair.
Scott Kent now in charge of two major departments
The only minister to remain in place is Scott Kent in Energy, Mines and Resources. He's also taken on Highways and Public Works, another big department.
Doug Graham moves to Education with former justice minister Mike Nixon taking over from Graham in the Health and Social Services portfolio.
Former Highways minister Wade Istchenko replaces Currie Dixon at Environment.
Elaine Taylor remains deputy premier and in charge of the Women's Directorate, but moves back to her former job as minister for Tourism and Culture.
Backbencher Stacey Hassard is now minister for Economic Development and Yukon Housing, making this the largest cabinet in Yukon history.
Opposition says underlying problems still to be dealt with
NDP MLA and opposition critic Jan Stick says the ministers have changed, but there's no indication the government's policies are changing, too.
"I think it's quite telling we haven't addressed some of the critical issues though," Stick says.
"We know that there's difficulties with First Nations, affordable housing. Anywhere that there seems to have been controversy, all of those people and those positions have changed."
Pasloski says he's playing to the strengths of the individual ministers.
He denies that public pressure played any part in the changes to Cather's role.
"This isn't about making a decision because of some political grandstanding by the opposition or by other levels of government. This is a decision that's right for Yukon, to make our government better," the premier says.
Liberal leader Sandy Silver credits Pasloski for recognizing changes needed to be made, but he doesn't see it in the same positive way as the premier.
“This is a major reset for a premier clearly unhappy with the direction the government was heading," Silver says.
"The scale of the changes is disconcerting and will lead to a great deal of on-the-job training and at the same time provides little continuity."
The new cabinet now includes:
- Premier Darrell Pasloski, MLA for Mountainview, as Minister of Finance.
- Elaine Taylor, MLA for Whitehorse West, as Deputy Premier and Minister of Tourism and Culture, and minister in charge of the Women’s Directorate and the French Language Services Directorate.
- Brad Cathers, MLA for Lake Laberge, Minister of Justice and Minister in charge of the Yukon Development Corporation/Yukon Energy Corporation.
- Doug Graham, MLA for Porter Creek North, as Minister of Education.
- Scott Kent, MLA for Riverdale North, Minister for Energy, Mines and Resources and Highways and Public Works.
- Currie Dixon, MLA for Copperbelt North, Minister of Community Services, Public Service Commission.
- Wade Istchenko, MLA for Kluane, as Minister of Environment.
- Mike Nixon, MLA for Porter Creek South, as Minister of Health and Social Services and minister in charge of the Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board.
- Stacey Hassard, MLA for Pelly-Nisutlin, as minister in charge of Economic Development, the Yukon Housing Corporation, the Yukon Liquor Corporation and the Yukon Lottery Commission.