Yukon’s ag minister re-appointed, named house leader

Yukon’s cabinet minister for the farming sector has been re-appointed to the post and has also been named government house leader.

Brad Cathers, the MLA for the Lake Laberge riding just north of Whitehorse, was sworn in Saturday as the territory’s minister for energy, mines and resources, a portfolio which includes responsibility for agriculture.

Cathers, the area’s MLA since 2002, was also sworn in as government house leader, a post he previously held from 2005 to 2009.

Cathers’ resume includes a stint as part owner of a wilderness tour company, Cathers Wilderness Adventures. He had been active behind the scenes in both territorial and federal politics in the Yukon since 1998, with the Yukon Party at both the local and executive level, and with the Reform Party/Canadian Alliance as its Yukon constituency president.

Cathers drew 528 votes in Lake Laberge in the Oct. 11 election compared to 330 for Frank Turner of the New Democrats, as part of a third straight majority for the Yukon Party.

Led by Premier Darrell Pasloski, the Yukon Party won 11 of 19 seats, compared to 10 of 18 for Pasloski’s predecessor Dennis Fentie in 2006. The Yukon’s Liberal party slipped from five to two seats, while the NDP won six, up from three in 2006.

The Yukon has about 33,000 acres of land devoted to agriculture, about 40 per cent of which is in crops and another 20 per cent under development for "future agricultural use," the government said on its web site.

About 70 per cent of Yukon farms are within 100 km of Whitehorse, the government said, mostly in the Takhini Valley area west of the city, with "significant" ag area also near Dawson City, Watson Lake and Mayo.

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