In 1996 Dennis Fentie entered territorial politics when he was elected to represent Watson Lake in Yukon's Legislative Assembly as a member of the NEW DEMOCRATIC PARTY.
Fentie, DennisDennis Fentie, businessman, premier of YUKON (b at Edmonton 8 Nov 1950). Dennis Fentie was a successful businessman before becoming Yukon's 7th premier. He moved to Watson Lake, Yukon, from Edmonton when he was 12. Fentie worked in trucking and logging after graduation from high school, eventually becoming the owner and manager of Francis River Construction Ltd in Watson Lake.
In 1996 Dennis Fentie entered territorial politics when he was elected to represent Watson Lake in Yukon's Legislative Assembly as a member of the NEW DEMOCRATIC PARTY. He won the same seat again in 2000 as a member of the New Democrats, serving several positions during his tenure, including member of the Standing Committee on Rules, Elections and Privileges; Government House Leader; Official Opposition House Leader; and head of the Cabinet Commission on Forestry. In May 2002 Fentie crossed the floor to become a member of the conservative Yukon Party, and in June 2002 won leadership of the party.
In the Yukon general election of November 2002, Dennis Fentie based the Yukon Party's campaign on a promise to create jobs despite Yukon's struggling economy. Fentie was re-elected in his Watson Lake constituency, and the Yukon Party won 12 of 18 ridings.
Dennis Fentie was first sworn in as Yukon's premier on 30 Nov 2002. He currently serves as premier, minister of finance and minister of environment. Fentie's priorities have included rebuilding the Yukon economy, formalizing relations with First Nations and developing co-operative relationships with other governments. Fentie has emphasized the "coming of age" of northern governments and the importance of a pan-northern approach to territorial formula financing, economic development and the provision of health care. He has also focused on addressing the harms of drug abuse and other illegal activities with the introduction of the Yukon Substance Abuse Action Plan, the Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods Act, and the RCMP Street Crime Reduction Team. As promised during the 2002 election, the unemployment rate in Yukon has declined considerably, from 9.8% in 2002 to just more than 4% in recent years.