Stephen Harper promises Yukon its own Canadian Armed Forces reserve unit

Federal Conservative Leader Stephen Harper announced a plan to create a Canadian Armed Forces reserve unit in Yukon, during a campaign stop in Whitehorse today.

Conservative leader also promises new measures aimed at hunters during campaign stop in Whitehorse

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper speaks at Trans North Helicopters hangar in Whitehorse during a campaign visit to Yukon on Friday. (Dave Croft/CBC)

Federal Conservative Leader Stephen Harper announced a plan to create a Canadian Armed Forces reserve unit in Yukon during a campaign stop in Whitehorse today.

The reserve unit would be aimed at "enhancing the Arctic operations capacity" and providing "specialized emergency response capacity," according to a news release.

The territory last had its own reserve force in 1968.

Harper had pledged in mid-August that if re-elected his government would grow the military reserve force to 30,000 from 24,000.

In a second announcement, made at the Trans North Helicopters hangar, Harper promised a series of new measures aimed at hunters.

The Conservatives will allot $5 million a year, starting in 2017, for programs to sustain the habitats that support bird, moose and turkey populations, he said.

New rules would create a family hunting permit for birds and allow the use of crossbows for hunting them.

Harper also offered $9 million over three years starting in 2016 for a tourism program to attract recreational anglers, hunters and snowmobiles from the U.S.

The Conservative leader also addressed the controversial Bill S-6, which imposes changes to Yukon's regulatory regime. The legislation has angered Yukon First Nations, who say it undermines their land claims under the Umbrella Final Agreement. Three First Nations are planning to take the federal government to court over the bill.

Harper said the changes in S-6 were requested by Yukon Premier Darrell Pasloski's government. He said the legislation tries to balance industry and conservation and that he appreciates the views of those opposed to the bill, but declined to comment on the pending court case.

"The government believes we're operating within our constitutional authority," Harper said. "We've had strong support from both houses of Parliament to pass [S-6] and from the territorial government."

Harper touched down in Whitehorse Thursday evening, where he was greeted at the airport by party supporters. He then headed to the Yukon Brewing Company, a local microbrewery, with Ryan Leef, the territory's incumbent Conservative MP.

Leef was in the news this week after he carried out a "citizen's arrest" of a woman defacing his campaign signs.

Leef won the riding by less than 200 votes in 2011, beating longtime Liberal Larry Bagnell, who is running again this time around.

with files from Canadian Press


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