a good start

Ryan Leef is no Larry Bagnell. And that's OK. When Leef squeaked out an upset victory in the last election, few knew what to expect. Now, a few months into the job, the affable fellow is showing signs of becoming a decent constituency MP.

Ryan Leef is no Larry Bagnell.

And that’s OK.

When Leef squeaked out an upset victory in the last election, few knew what to expect.

Now, a few months into the job, the affable fellow is showing signs of becoming a decent constituency MP.

As one person put it recently, he realizes he has to work hard, like Bagnell, to represent his riding.

And he is.

In recent weeks, we’ve watched him stand up for citizens’ right to free assembly after SNC Lavelin security guards stationed at the Elijah Smith Building evicted people who gathered to remember 73 Norwegians killed by right-wing Christian nutter Anders Breivik.

After security confiscated a plank used to hold a couple of small Norwegian flags and shut down the memorial because those assembled lacked the requisite “liability insurance,” Leef leaned on senior Public Works officials and finagled permission for the memorial to occur the next day.

We’ll withhold comment on the fact it now takes a politician to phone for approval before citizens are allowed to hold an assembly on government land.

What’s important is that Leef stood up for their right to do so.

“Every Yukoner should feel welcome here,” he said.

And he’s right.

Noting people hold protests on Parliament Hill all the time, Leef has pledged to find a solution to the liability insurance problem. There are plenty of Yukoners who will support him in that effort.

Recently, Leef has also been helping Evangeline Ramirez, a local woman caught in a messy divorce and immigration case with her husband.

While Leef hasn’t cracked immigration officials yet, his efforts have been appreciated by the woman.

And Leef has also been fighting on behalf of Old Crow, which is less than impressed with Ottawa’s new Nutrition North program, which replaced Food Mail.

Since the new system has come into effect, food prices have, in some cases, tripled. And the quality of the fruits and vegetables has dropped.

Leef has met with Vuntut Gwitchin Chief Norma Kassi and has vowed to brief Ottawa on her concerns and suggestions.

His action on this file is also commendable.

But he’d be advised to borrow another page from Bagnell’s playbook – rather than simply take aboriginal concerns to Ottawa, perhaps he should invite them to make the case themselves.

It’s a finesse move – something that gives his constituents and fellow politicians the respect they deserve in Ottawa.

It’s something to consider.

We’d also like Leef to champion Environment Canada. He should ask his colleagues in Ottawa to spread the pain of financial cuts across several departments, instead of firing staff who produce solid information that might undermine the government’s economic agenda.

But there’s time – it’s still early.

For now, Leef is working for his constituents – listening to their concerns and acting on their behalf when necessary.

And that’s encouraging.

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