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Former Yukon premier Dennis Fentie dies

Yukon Premier Dennis Fentie responds to reporters after a day of meetings at the Western Premiers' Conference in Dawson City, Yukon, on June 18, 2009.
Yukon Premier Dennis Fentie responds to reporters after a day of meetings at the Western Premiers' Conference in Dawson City, Yukon, on June 18, 2009. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Dennis Fentie, the former premier of Yukon, died Friday after battling cancer.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a statement expressing his “deepest sympathies” to Fentie’s wife and family.

“I was saddened to hear of the passing of Dennis Fentie, former Premier of Yukon, after a battle with cancer,” Trudeau said in the statement.

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Fentie was a “proud” business owner who was first elected to Yukon’s Legislative Assembly in 1996, according to the prime minister’s statement.

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Born in Edmonton, Alta. in 1950, he became premier of Yukon in 2002 until he resigned in 2011.

“During his two terms in office, Mr. Fentie worked to strengthen the territory’s economy and revitalize the mining industry,” Trudeau said in the statement.

“He also took steps to create partnerships with Indigenous peoples, and to promote cooperation between governments on economic development and health care.”

Fentie was first elected as MLA of Watson Lake in 1996, according to the Yukon Party.

He had a “tenacious spirit and always fought for his constituents and for Yukoners no matter the issue,” the party said in a statement Friday.

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Current Yukon Premier Sandy Silver described Fentie as a “respected leader” who “passionately represented the people of Watson Lake and southeast Yukon for 15 years in the Yukon Legislative Assembly.”

“As an MLA, he fought hard to ensure rural Yukon communities were at the forefront of decision making in the territory,” he said in a statement Friday.

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Former prime minister Stephen Harper issued his condolences as well, saying he was “saddened” to hear of Fentie’s death.

“Dennis was a formidable colleague and a tireless champion of Canada’s North,” Harper tweeted.

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