In the last election, Yukon member of Parliament Ryan Leef pledged that he would be duty-bound to put the wishes of his constituents ahead of the party line.
How quickly things change.
In his first year in office, Leef has excelled at carrying the Conservative party’s message from Ottawa to the Yukon – consistently voting with his party in Parliament – but has been far less skilled at bringing the Yukon’s voice to Ottawa.
Leef’s record outside the chamber is no better. He routinely supports government decisions that will hurt the Yukon.
Leef supported the slashing of Parks Canada staff by a third. Tourism is a mainstay of the Yukon and millions of dollars will be lost in revenue from spending associated with Parks Canada sites.
Leef supported the cuts in spite of the fact that the government’s own studies showed Parks Canada contributed $10 million to the Yukon’s gross domestic product and created the equivalent of 145 full-time jobs in 2009.
Leef and his Conservative party are closing the Canada Revenue Agency office in Whitehorse. Businesses frequently use this efficient office for GST quarterly payments, as do thousands of citizens who go there with questions on their taxes.
The renowned Kluane Lake Research Station has been an icon of scientific study in the North for decades, conducting critical research into the changing northern climate. Yet it too will shut its doors because of Conservative cuts backed by Leef.
Perhaps Leef feels that as a Conservative party MP, he cannot disagree with Prime Minister Stephen Harper. But the constituents of the Yukon deserve an MP who can think for himself – and speak up for them.
John McCallum, MP, critic
Liberal Party Treasury Board