The Yukon has launched itself on a new direction after resoundingly defeating the Liberal party government of Pat Duncan Nov. 4.
The Yukon Party, under leader Dennis Fentie, was swept to power, winning 12 of 18 seats. The New Democratic Party captured five and the governing Liberals took only one with Duncan getting re-elected.
In its campaign platform, the Yukon Party said it supported the Alaska Highway route for a natural gas pipeline, along with the Dempster Lateral, which would feed Mackenzie Delta gas into the highway system, as a preferred option for shipping gas from the U.S. and Canadian Arctic to southern markets.
But if an "over-the-top" route was selected by the U.S. and Canadian governments and the industry, the party said the Yukon should attempt to gain maximum benefits for the territory.
To that end, the Yukon would seek the same access as Northwest Territories residents to employment, training and business opportunities arising from the construction, operation and maintenance of a Mackenzie Valley pipeline.
If the Mackenzie project proceeded, without a Prudhoe Bay connection under the Beaufort Sea, the Yukon should ensure that gas in the Yukon's Eagle Plains area and other potential fields was not stranded, the party said.
As well, it said, the Yukon should be promoted as a staging area for pipeline construction because of access afforded by the Dempster Highway.
Finally, the new government will press to resolve outstanding offshore jurisdictional boundary issues between the Yukon and Northwest Territories, including the right of the Yukon to share government revenues derived from oil and gas development in the Yukon portion of the Beaufort.
On other issues, the party has set a March 31, 2003, deadline to resolve four outstanding aboriginal land claims by offering to act as a facilitator or mediator with the Canadian government.
With the economy and unemployment identified as key areas of dissatisfaction with the Duncan government, the Yukon party said it will promote development of the territory's own energy resources — oil, natural gas, coal, wood chip, wind solar and micro hydro — with the goal of achieving self-sufficiency.
It plans to encourage investment in the energy resources by providing an information data base, competitive regulatory regimes and a stable, fair business environment.