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WHITEHORSE – As Liberal Cabinet Ministers appear to be ramping up their respective campaigns to replace Sandy Silver as Leader of the territory’s Liberal Party, it is important that he publicly set out rules for Ministers who are seeking the leadership.
There is a long-standing convention in Canadian politics that Cabinet Ministers who are running for the leadership of a party step away from cabinet duties during the leadership campaign. This is to ensure ministers cannot use public resources or their position to assist with their campaigns.
“Any Ministers who are seeking the leadership of the Liberal Party should not be allowed to misuse their roles in cabinet, or use government resources to campaign,” said Brad Cathers, Yukon Party Official Opposition Critic for Democratic Institutions. “Yukon taxpayers need to know government resources will not be used to help pay for campaign costs of anyone seeking the leadership of the territorial Liberals.”
Recent examples of ministers stepping away from cabinet during a leadership campaign include Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson, who resigned from cabinet in August 2021 to seek the leadership of the Manitoba Progressive Conservatives, and Iain Rankin, who resigned from cabinet in October 2020 to seek the leadership of the Nova Scotia Liberal Party.
Here in the Yukon, the last time a party in government held a leadership election was in 2011. During that election, the only minister who entered the campaign, Jim Kenyon, was not allowed to continue to serve in Cabinet.
“With Premier Silver widely expected to announce his retirement later this year, it is important that he be open and transparent with the public,” added Cathers. “Premier Silver needs to lay out the ground rules for Cabinet Ministers who are seeking to replace him, to ensure that government resources are not used in the Liberal leadership election.”