The Yukon government finally got down to business in the legislative assembly Thursday — by re-iterating most of its campaign pledges and platitudes.
It was the opening of the first spring sitting for Sandy Silver's Liberals, six months after they decisively won a majority government, ousting the Yukon Party after 14 years. The sitting began with the government's throne speech, read by Yukon Commissioner Doug Phillips.
"Yukoners want their governments to serve them. Your new government is working diligently every day to do just that," Phillips began.
"[Yukoners] want an economy that respects the environment and the natural gifts of the land. Yukoners also want good government — government that's approachable, transparent, and accountable."
What followed was a list, long on promises and short on surprises or detail.
Among the promises:
- Licensing the practice of midwifery by 2018
- Developing a new francophone school
- Completing the Whistle Bend continuing care facility, "while exploring other options for our seniors to age in place."
- Amending the Human Rights Act and the Vital Statistics Act to better protect the rights of LGBT citizens.
- Expanding e-health services
- Ensuring carbon tax is "revenue neutral", with money is redirected back to Yukoners
- Improving resource roads to placer operations in the Klondike
First bill will declare a holiday
The speech also re-iterated the government's intent to make National Aboriginal Day a statutory holiday in Yukon. In fact, it will be the first piece of legislation tabled by the new government, Phillips read.
"On June 21, Yukoners will celebrate the historic and cultural roots of this territory. They will honour and recognize the many contributions First Nations and their citizens have made, and continue to make, to our unique way of life."
The throne speech also confirmed that another Yukon Forum will be held next month. It's a formal gathering of government and First Nations leaders, to talk about issues of mutual concern.
'Not much to it'
Opposition politicians have already criticized the Liberals for seeming to drag their feet after winning power last fall, and Thursday's throne speech didn't blunt those barbs.
"For a speech that took six months to write, I was certainly hoping for a lot more," said Stacey Hassard, the interim leader of the Yukon Party.
"It didn't answer any of the questions as to why we've been almost six months before getting on with the work that we need to do," he said.
NDP leader Liz Hanson also noted the lack of specific proposals, in particular on inequality in the territory.
"It was glossy, similar to their campaign platform. There was no detail in that either," she said. "We will look to the budget for succinct and clear details about how they go about implementing these broad, general commitments."
Speaking to reporters after the speech, the premier deflected criticism, saying there will be more detail in the territorial budget next week. He also took a shot at the opposition, saying the Yukon Party waited too long to call the election last year.