Pasloski pleased to become Yukon's new premier

Darrell Pasloski says he is excited to be Yukon's premier-designate, after members of the Yukon Party chose him to replace outgoing leader and premier Dennis Fentie over the weekend.
Whitehorse pharmacist Darrell Pasloski wins Yukon Party's leadership, making him the territory's premier-designate. 2:19

Darrell Pasloski says he is excited to be Yukon's premier-designate, after members of the Yukon Party chose him to replace outgoing leader and premier Dennis Fentie over the weekend.

Pasloski, a 50-year-old Whitehorse pharmacist and business owner, easily defeated two other men on Saturday to win the party's leadership.

Pasloski garnered 767 votes while his closest opponent, tourism operator Rod Taylor, secured 436 votes. Current Yukon Party MLA and former economic development minister Jim Kenyon had just 48 votes.

"I'm very excited. I've had a day now to let it sink in and now we're ready to get down to work," Pasloski told CBC News in an interview Monday.

Pasloski will succeed Fentie, 60, who has been the territory's premier and leader of the right-leaning Yukon Party since 2002.

Currently Canada's longest-serving premier, Fentie announced last month that he is retiring from politics and he will step down after a new party leader is chosen.

Transition period

Pasloski said he will spend the the next few weeks making the transition to the premier's office, with Fentie's guidance.

"We will have a swearing-in ceremony that will occur probably in a couple weeks from now — exact date not calculated yet — and then it's about getting down and meeting with people and connecting with First Nations leadership, talking to mayors," Pasloski said.

"Really, it will be about putting together our team of people that want to see us continue to go down the path that we've been going down."

While Pasloski has never held elected office before, he is not new to politics. He ran for the Conservatives in the 2008 federal election but lost to then-incumbent Liberal Larry Bagnell.

"I've lived here for over 20 years, I've been active in the community. Owning two drug stores, I've had the pleasure and the opportunity to meet many, many people over that time and help people out," Pasloski said.

"I believe that those connections are always strong and we can never make light of those connections."

Membership numbers up

When Pasloski becomes premier, it will be up to him to call an election that is widely expected to take place this fall. A general election must be called before the Yukon Party's current mandate expires in mid-October.

Pasloski noted that the Yukon Party's membership ranks have swelled in the last month, from 300 members before the leadership race to about 1,500 today.

"I think this is exciting. We now have over 1,500 members — that's almost 10 per cent of of the eligible voters in the Yukon," he said.

"They've come to the Yukon Party because they look at the record they see what we're doing and they want to be part of it. And so now we're going to all pull together as one team and work towards building a strong platform and presenting it to the Yukoners this year."

But while the Yukon Party has its sights set on winning an unprecedented third term this fall, Pasloski kept mum on an election date.

"I don't have a hard date in mind at this point, so I will let you know," he said, adding that he has yet to determine which riding he will run in.

Right-wing roots

Pasloski's win as party leader has reaffirmed the Yukon Party's right-wing roots, said longtime member Don Cox.

"The right person was chosen, and my criteria for the right person was that he'd be an absolutely bonded conservative," Cox said after the leadership election results were announced late Saturday.

Meanwhile, Liberal Leader Arthur Mitchell encouraged unhappy Yukon Party members to join his party, which he described as a centrist option compared to the Yukon Party and the New Democrats.

"To those who supported Mr. Taylor, there is a home for moderates in the centre who have a strong belief in a vibrant business-focused economy that's also inclusive of all Yukoners, and that's the Yukon Liberal Party," Mitchell told reporters on Monday.

"We would always welcome them and any other people that find that they're not on the extreme left or right, but want to be in the centre."

Mitchell called on Pasloski to provide Yukoners with an update on the government's financial situation, as well as make information public about its energy generation plans.

Mitchell also demanded that a special legislative session be called within the next month to talk about the shortage of affordable housing options in the territory.