Cathers returns to Yukon Party caucus

Lake Laberge MLA Brad Cathers is coming back to the Yukon Party caucus, after sitting as an Independent for nearly two years.

Lake Laberge MLA Brad Cathers is coming back to the Yukon Party caucus, after sitting as an Independent for nearly two years.

Brad Cathers speaks to reporters in Whitehorse on Aug. 28, 2009, when he said he was leaving the Yukon Party caucus in a falling-out with then-premier Dennis Fentie. Cathers announced on Wednesday that he has accepted an invitation from current Premier Darrell Pasloski to come back to caucus. ((CBC))

Cathers, a former Yukon Party cabinet minister, said Wednesday he has accepted Premier Darrell Pasloski's invitation to rejoin the caucus, albeit not as a cabinet member.

"I have a strong working relationship with Darrell," Cathers told CBC News.

First elected under the Yukon Party banner in 2002, Cathers served as health minister and minister of energy, mines and resources.

But Cathers angered party loyalists when he had a public falling-out with then-premier Dennis Fentie  in August 2009 over the government's secret talks about the possible privatization of Yukon Energy Corp. assets.

At the time, Cathers accused Fentie of being dishonest and confrontational with regards to the Yukon Energy controversy and other issues the government faced at the time, such as a proposed land-use plan for the Peel River watershed.

Still a Yukon Party member

But while Cathers sat as an Independent in the territorial legislature over the last two years, he has maintained his Yukon Party membership.

Yukon Party faithful in his own riding, Lake Laberge, tried unsuccessfully last year to  have Cathers stripped of his membership. The riding association has since lined up a new candidate to take on Cathers for the party nomination.

But after Pasloski took over as premier  this month from Fentie, who is retiring from territorial politics, Cathers said he hopes party faithful will forgive and forget.

"Those within the Yukon Party who have a problem with me certainly have taken a run at me a couple times in the past," Cathers said.

"While I always take those threats seriously, I'm humbly asking for all party members, including those who may have had an issue with me in the past, to give me their support."

Cathers said he has always intended to return to the government party after Fentie left, adding that there is no ill will between them.

"We certainly had differences, which are well-known, but we also accomplished a lot of good things working together," Cathers said.

Pasloski to run in new riding

Meanwhile, Pasloski announced on Wednesday that he intends to run in Whitehorse's Mountainview riding when a territorial election is called later this year.

Mountainview is a new riding that includes the city subdivisions of McIntyre, Granger, Valleyview and Hillcrest. Pasloski said he has lived in that area for 16 years.

The redrawn electoral boundaries include part of the former McIntyre-Takhini riding, which is currently held by Environment Minister John Edzerza.

But Edzerza has decided not to seek re-election this year because of serious health issues. Earlier this month, cabinet officials confirmed that Edzerza was flown to a Vancouver hospital  with an undisclosed medical condition.

"John has fully supported me in my attempt to be able to win the nomination as the Yukon Party candidate for that riding," Pasloski said.

"John will not be seeking re-election in the upcoming election, due to health reasons."

Edzerza's cabinet responsibilities will be handled by other ministers in the interim, Pasloski said earlier this week.

As premier, Pasloski must call a general election before the Yukon Party's current mandate expires in October.

The party is expected to hold a nomination meeting soon in Mountainview.