Cathers quits Yukon Party caucus

Brad Cathers resigned from the Yukon's governing party on Friday, saying Premier Dennis Fentie has been dishonest and confrontational.

Ex-cabinet minister to sit as Independent

Brad Cathers resigned from the Yukon's governing party Friday, saying Premier Dennis Fentie has been dishonest and confrontational.

The Lake Laberge MLA told reporters in Whitehorse that he has quit the Yukon Party cabinet and caucus and will sit as an Independent MLA when the legislature resumes sitting this fall.

"Let me be clear … Dennis Fentie used to be a good leader, but that has changed," Cathers said Friday, listing five reasons he said he cannot work with the premier anymore.

Cathers, who is urging other Yukon Party MLAs to resign, said he was surprised with how Fentie reacted to his Aug. 18 decision to leave the caucus.

"It's not the first time that I felt that the premier's response to reasonable points of view has been unnecessarily belligerent and confrontational," he said.

Cathers was considered to be the premier's right-hand man in government, especially on recent controversial issues such as the government's secret talks over merging Yukon Energy Corp. with a private corporation.

Those talks only became public when former Yukon Energy board members leaked discussion documents from the meetings to the media. Fentie has steadfastly denied allegations that he's been working on privatizing the public power utility's assets.

'Lack of honesty' with Yukoners, caucus

Fentie was also accused this summer of meddling in the work of the Peel Watershed Planning Commission, allegedly ordering government officials to withhold a technical report from the government's submission.

Cathers accused Fentie of a "lack of honesty with the public and with his own caucus" on the recent controversies and cited an increased centralization of power in the premier's office "to the extent of the premier giving directions to the departments behind ministers' backs."

He also blasted the premier for a "lack of respect for MLAs, political staff, senior officials and other government employees" as well as "a tendency to resort to bullying behaviour."

Cathers hinted that there is more that Fentie has not been totally honest about.

However, he said he would not elaborate on that point "because they occurred within the cabinet or caucus process," which is confidential.

Fentie was touring Tombstone Park on Friday and was not immediately available for comment.

A longtime Yukon Party member, Cathers was first elected to office in 2002 and was first appointed to Fentie's cabinet in 2005.

He was most recently the territory's minister of energy, mines and resources, as well as the government house leader. Previously, he was health and social services minister until 2008.