Yukon's political leaders pack the house
More than 200 people crowded into the Gold Rush Inn to hear what the leaders of the three major political parties plan to do if they win the Oct. 11 election.
The CBC leaders' forum is a mainstay of Yukon elections and for many it's the best chance to see the leaders in action.
Tr'ondek Hwech'in chief Eddie Taylor started the evening off by asking Yukon Party Leader Darrell Pasloski about his stance on the Peel. It was a topic that was raised several more times during the two-hour forum.
"You can't make a decision without knowing what the costs are," Pasloski said, chiding other leaders who have taken a stand, calling them being irresponsible.
Liberal Leader Arthur Mitchell said he thinks it's irresponsible not to tell the public where a party stands and reiterated his party's promise to accept the plan.
NDP Leader Liz Hanson suggested Pasloski was jumping the gun by suggesting the government would have to pay compensation. She says the plan doesn't recommend expropriation of mineral claims.
The question of uranium mining was also raised.
"An NDP government will not support uranium mining in the Yukon," said Hanson. The Liberals would ask the public about it before making any decision, said Mitchell. The Yukon Party recognizes there's no appetite for it, said Pasloski.
When asked what they'd do to prevent the Yukon from becoming the next Fort McMurray, Mitchell used the opportunity to chastize the Yukon Party for being ill-prepared for the mining industry boom.
"We need to find a balance," said Mitchell. " I don't want to see Fort McMurray in the Yukon."
Hanson, who has three siblings who live in Fort McMurray, said even Alberta has realized it needs to start preparing a land use plan for that region before it's too late.
Pasloski said Yukoners want a pristine wilderness and a strong economy which "has created some challenges."
The three were also quizzed on government spending, mineral staking within municipalities and education.
Although Pasloski said the government has no "net debt," the other two leaders said that didn't mean much because that was including the value of all the government assets.
Hanson reminded Pasloski that the Yukon Party government did borrow millions to pay for the Mayo B hydro dam and two new hospitals.
Green Party Leader Kristina Calhoun, who was not invited to participate because her party had no seats in the last legislature and only has two candidates, asked about electoral reform. Only the NDP said it would start to work on it, and a fixed election date would be part of the new system.