Northwestern Canada: Former Yukon Premier Dennis Fentie dies

Former Yukon Premier Dennis Fentie, seen here in 2009, has died at age 68. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
Former Yukon Premier Dennis Fentie has died.

A spokesperson for the Yukon Party confirmed Friday morning that Fentie had died after a battle with cancer. He was 68.

Fentie was MLA for Watson Lake, first elected as a New Democrat in the 1996 election. He crossed the floor to join the conservative Yukon Party in 2002, and quickly became leader. He then led the party to a majority government in the 2002 election, ousting Pat Duncan’s Liberals.

In a statement on Friday, current Yukon Party leader Stacey Hassard said Fentie “had a tenacious spirit and always fought for his constituents and for Yukoners no matter the issue.

“Over his nine years as premier he was instrumental in negotiating a better health care funding agreement between the territories and Canada as well as for getting improvements to the territorial formula financing arrangements. Thanks to the hard work of Dennis, Yukon has made huge progress in implementing devolution and growing up as a territory.”

Fentie gives the thumbs up as he speaks with former Nunavut Territorial Leader Paul Okalik following a meeting of The Council of the Federation in Vancouver, in 2008. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

The Yukon Party was reelected to a majority government under Fentie in 2006. He stepped down before the 2011 election, to be succeeded as Yukon Party leader and premier by Darrell Pasloski.

Before entering politics, Fentie worked for many years as a businessman in logging, tourism, mining, trucking and fuel distribution, including owning and managing Francis River Construction Ltd. in Watson Lake. He also acted as director of the Association for Yukon Forests and director of the Watson Lake Chamber of Commerce.

The City of Whitehorse tweeted Friday morning that its flags would fly at half-mast to mark Fentie’s death.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Northwestern Canada: Indigenous lawyer and former federal candidate Melissa Atkinson dies, CBC News

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