It was the first question from the floor in Mayo and Ed Schultz answered it emphatically.
“I have been asked to run in the territorial election,” he said, standing before the Council of Yukon First Nations general assembly last month.
“I am not interested in running. I’m fully committed.”
The query about Schultz’s future aspirations had come from Champagne/Aishihik chief James Allen, but it was on everyone’s mind.
In his campaign to become the Yukon regional chief to the Assembly of First Nations, Schultz’s main handicap was himself.
He had abruptly left the council as its grand chief in 2005, in an unsuccessful bid for the leadership of the Yukon Liberal party.
The move damaged his credibility within his former power base.
Schultz had no option in Mayo but to assure chiefs and councils that their interests came before his own.
He needed votes.
He said he wasn’t interested in the Yukon legislature, even mused to the chiefs that he “doesn’t get” territorial politics.
But despite his assurances, Schultz lost the election to incumbent Rick O’Brien, taking only 14 of 64 votes.
A reporter pointed out to Schultz that the tally meant that 10 of 14 Yukon First Nations had voted against him.
“I guess it says that I’m no good for this role any longer,” said Schultz, candidly.
“I’ve done my time, I guess, and I have to go look at what my family and I would like to choose next.”
As a politician without a post he felt insecure, like “a fish out of water,” he added.
Schultz’s comments of being “done” in one role hinted that he might have to pursue another, despite promises.
Less than three weeks later, he did.
Standing beside Liberal leader Arthur Mitchell Thursday, Schultz announced his intention to seek the party’s nomination in McIntyre-Takhini.
“What encouraged me to run is conversations with my family and with Arthur and people on the street who have been stopping me and saying, ‘Ed, you can contribute, please don’t walk away from public life right now,’” he said.
Schultz said he is “quite resilient and quite determined” in his latest quest for office.
Three election campaigns in one year could harden anyone’s resolve for success.
“I’m very pleased he has reconsidered his momentary hesitation and decided to put his name forward,” said Mitchell.
Schultz made a mistake by promising Yukon First Nations that he wouldn’t run.
Perhaps the numbers say that Schultz doesn’t need the votes he needed in Mayo to win the Mac-Tak seat.
Maybe Mitchell thinks Schultz is so good he’s needed on the Liberal team.
Or perhaps Mitchell couldn’t find anyone else to run in the hot riding, where incumbent John Edzerza and Rachel Lewis are already squaring off for the NDP nomination.
Whatever the answer is, Mitchell is banking on Schultz’s eloquent tongue and insightful ideas to smooth any ruffled feathers.
But Mitchell cannot ignore the fact that Schultz now has a credibility problem. (TQ, GM)