North

Yukon premier keeps mum on political future

Yukon Premier Dennis Fentie would not say whether he will seek another term as leader of the governing Yukon Party, even though a leadership vote will be held in the coming weeks.

Yukon Premier Dennis Fentie would not say whether he will seek another term as leader of the governing Yukon Party, even though a leadership vote will be held in the coming weeks.

Dennis Fentie, who has been premier and Yukon Party leader since 2002, would not say Saturday if he will run in the party's upcoming leadership race. ((CBC))

The decision to hold a leadership vote was made Saturday at the Yukon Party's annual spring convention in Whitehorse. No date has been set for the vote, although it will be held before a territorial election is called later this year.

"Timelines now are up to the executive," Fentie told reporters on Saturday. "Under our constitution, they set the timelines, so we have a minimum of 45 days and a maximum of 180 days."

It is widely believed that Fentie will call the election by October, when his current mandate expires.

Despite widespread speculation about who will lead the Yukon Party into the upcoming election, Fentie kept mum on the subject at Saturday's convention.

"Well, you'll all have to have some patience, because that announcement will be coming," he said.

"The constitution also dictates how that unfolds, so there's a number of days ahead of us where all these things will become clear."

Fentie becomes interim leader

Fentie said he is now the party's interim leader until the leadership vote takes place.

The Yukon Party has been in power since 2002 and won its most recent mandate in October 2006. Fentie said the party is now looking at ways to win a third term in office.

"No party has won three consecutive mandates, OK? That's never been done in the Yukon before," he said.

"So one of the main strategies around doing that, to at least trying to accomplish that, is to build and increase the ranks of the party. And part of this whole process, with leadership campaigns, does exactly that."

Fentie demurred again when asked if he wants to hold onto the premier's job.

"These aren't easy decisions for one to come to," he said. "They're not career choices, they're life choices."

Meanwhile, Yukon Party members elected a new executive during Saturday's convention.

Mike Nixon takes over as party president, while Jonas Smith was elected vice-president. Linda Hillier is the party's new treasurer, while Debbie Younker continues as secretary.