Harper’s Yukon visit failed to inspire

 Last month, Prime Minister Stephen Harper was in the Yukon so briefly that I wondered why he didn't just use Skype. He met with some industry folks, had a picnic at Miles Canyon (after it had been closed to riffraff such as th


Open letter to MP Ryan Leef:

Last month, Prime Minister Stephen Harper was in the Yukon so briefly that I wondered why he didn’t just use Skype. He met with some industry folks, had a picnic at Miles Canyon (after it had been closed to riffraff such as the public) and announced old programs. And he attended a private Conservative Party function at a ranch outside of Whitehorse.

The pretence that the prime minister is willing to meet with ordinary Yukoners has been left by the wayside.

There was a small protest held outside the ranch property as conservatives arrived. Our group included members of Idle No More, conservationists, an opera singer with opinions about the degradation of democracy, a First Nations song and drum group and me. We held signs and sang. The operatic voice filled the entire forest with a spirited rendition of “Oh Canada.” It must have also penetrated the closed vehicles because some of the guests flinched as they drove by.

The drum and song group wrote a special song for the prime minister. Translated it went, “Run away Harper, poor thing.” How prescient! The next day, Mr. Harper announced his intention to prorogue Parliament.

During this visit to the Yukon, the prime minister accused the NDP of being “dangerous” and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau of poor judgment. He went on to say that his party stood up for those “who played by the rules.”

Do Conservative supporters really live under a rock? The prime minister seems to think so. It’s as though the disgraced senators appointed themselves to the Senate. As though access to the Conservative Party database, which allowed Pierre Poutine to commit electoral crime, didn’t originate from someone high up in the Conservative Party echelon. Playing by the rules, indeed!

How enjoyable was that private Conservative function anyway? Our tiny gathering outside the gates was fun.

I attended a Conservative Party barbecue fundraiser for the food bank shortly after you were elected in 2010. In spite of Senator Dan Lang’s valiant attempts to get people to circulate, Conservatives clung to the walls. They didn’t invite eye contact. They didn’t talk to each other. Why were they so grim? Was it the presence of Tony Clement, fresh from the Fake Lake boondoggle? Perhaps Jack Layton’s recent demise and the outpouring of grief by so many Canadians made them feel low knowing that their guy was never going to inspire that kind of love. “Funereal” is the only way I could describe the event.

This summer there was a Liberal gathering for Justin Trudeau at Mount Mac. The room was packed. People were excited, chatty and engaged. Mr. Trudeau gave a short, lively speech about his aspirations for Canada. (By the way, he didn’t slander his political opponents.)

He took un-vetted questions from the audience and I asked: “Given that the First Past the Post electoral system is undemocratic and leads to negative campaigning, where do you stand on electoral reform?” He responded thoughtfully and at length. He endorsed changing to a preferential voting system. He also noted that it would be constitutionally simple to do. Mr. Trudeau did not endorse a system of proportional representation, such as that of Germany, saying that it would result in special interest groups, deal-making and division.

I don’t entirely agree with Mr. Trudeau. But I appreciated that he didn’t brush me off with catchphrases, that he had already given the subject serious consideration and that he was able to think on his feet.

I’ve attended other political parties. Charlie Angus performed with Kevin Barr at an NDP fundraiser this summer. And I have to say that the NDP sure know how to step dance.

A few years ago, we were at a party given for Elizabeth May. The Old Fire Hall was filled to capacity and just about everyone who wasn’t a Conservative was there, including Liberal and NDP politicians. Larry Bagnell’s infant daughter played at May’s feet while she spoke. Was there music? It felt like it.

There have been some political defections lately. MPs Brent Rathgeber and Maria Mourani have both broken with the fold for reasons of principle. They have my respect and I notice that Rathgeber walks with a lighter step these days.

Ryan, if you were to cross the floor and sit as an Independent, not only would you gain the respect of many Yukoners, you might also be invited to a better class of parties.

May you walk on the high road.

Linda Leon is a Whitehorse freelance writer.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Diane McLeod-McKay, Yukon’s Ombudsman and information and privacy commissioner, filed a petition on Dec. 11 after her office was barred from accessing documents related to a child and family services case. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon government rejects Ombudsman requests for documentation filed to Supreme Court

Diane McLeod-McKay filed a petition on Dec. 11 after requests for documents were barred

Buffalo Sabres center Dylan Cozens, left, celebrates his first NHL goal with defenceman Rasmus Ristolainen during the second period of a game against the Washington Capitals on Jan. 22 in Washington. (Nick Wass/AP)
Cozens notches first NHL goal in loss to Capitals

The Yukoner potted his first tally at 10:43 of the second period on Jan. 22

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Former CEO of Great Canadian Gaming, actress charged after flying to Beaver Creek for COVID-19 vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Are they coming?

One of COVID-19’s big economic questions is whether it will prompt a… Continue reading

Yukon MP Larry Bagnell, along with Yukon health and education delegates, announce a new medical research initiative via a Zoom conference on Jan. 21. (Screen shot)
New medical research unit at Yukon University launched

The SPOR SUPPORT Unit will implement patient-first research practices

The bus stop at the corner of Industrial and Jasper Road in Whitehorse on Jan. 25. The stop will be moved approximately 80 metres closer to Quartz Road. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
UPDATED: Industrial Road bus stop to be relocated

The city has postponed the move indefinitely

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment in Faro photgraphed in 2016. Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old building currently accommodating officers. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Faro RCMP tagged for new detachment

Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old… Continue reading

In a Jan. 18 announcement, the Yukon government said the shingles vaccine is now being publicly funded for Yukoners between age 65 and 70, while the HPV vaccine program has been expanded to all Yukoners up to and including age 26. (1213rf.com)
Changes made to shingles, HPV vaccine programs

Pharmacists in the Yukon can now provide the shingles vaccine and the… Continue reading

Parking attendant Const. Ouellet puts a parking ticket on the windshield of a vehicle in downtown Whitehorse on Dec. 6, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is hoping to write of nearly $300,000 in outstanding fees, bylaw fines and court fees, $20,225 of which is attributed to parking fines issued to non-Yukon license plates. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City of Whitehorse could write off nearly $300,000

The City of Whitehorse could write off $294,345 in outstanding fees, bylaw… Continue reading

Grants available to address gender-based violence

Organizations could receive up to $200,000

In this illustration, artist-journalist Charles Fripp reveals the human side of tragedy on the Stikine trail to the Klondike in 1898. A man chases his partner around the tent with an axe, while a third man follows, attempting to intervene. (The Daily Graphic/July 27, 1898)
History Hunter: Charles Fripp — gold rush artist

The Alaskan coastal town of Wrangell was ill-equipped for the tide of… Continue reading

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. While Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis is now setting his sights on the upcoming territorial election, other members of council are still pondering their election plans for the coming year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillors undecided on election plans

Municipal vote set for Oct. 21

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decicions made by Whitehorse city council this week.

Most Read