About 18 months ago, I decided to engage in the political process by putting my own name forward in hopes of joining the legislature. I did so because I felt it was important to try and bring integrity back to government.
I want to express my thanks to the hundreds of Whitehorse Centre folks who opened their doors to me over the past six months and shared their views openly and respectfully.
Since I lived on Cook Street more than 30 years ago, I’ve known downtown Whitehorse is a great community where people have a real pride of place and care about each other. I also recognize that Whitehorse Centre is now home to people who have been citizens for a month as well as those who were born and raised in Yukon. As citizens, they share an interest in having their voices heard and respected.
People are compassionate about those who live without secure or safe housing, and are frustrated by the lack of planning for an emergency shelter for youth and real options to address homelessness. Shelters are an important emergency provision, but they aren’t homes. We also need affordable private rental housing and building lots.
Part of building and maintaining that great sense of community in downtown Whitehorse is ensuring that all people feel safe and secure in their own neighbourhood. Some of the ideas I’ve raised over the last few weeks, such as better lighting and more foot patrols, are not dramatic Ã but they’re effective.
Municipal issues such as the Black Street infrastructure are similar to what we saw at Dawson’s Slinky Mine. Citizens recognize that an MLA cannot interfere with the day-to-day workings of another level of government, but an effective MLA can act to restore the principle of the Yukon Municipal Act intended to give citizens a say in important community decisions.
As Yukoners, Whitehorse Centre residents are concerned about issues that affect the whole territory. I’ve heard, loud and clear, that they want government to have a balanced approach to resource development and environmental protection. The Peel Watershed land-use plan is an example of people’s real concern that both the process of public engagement and the results be respected.
Citizens don’t buy the “development at all costs” argument and do not believe that we have to choose between the economy and the environment.
As important as mining is to the Yukon economy we also have an expanding tourism industry, an exciting arts and cultural community and a growing small business and technology sector.
I have heard the message: a healthy economy requires a healthy environment.
Last, I take heart that Whitehorse Centre cares about the loss of political integrity both inside and outside the legislative assembly and recognizes the serious erosion of government transparency and accountability. That’s why it was important to me to run a civil, clean campaign, and why I have made the restoration of government integrity my top priority if elected to the legislature on December 13.
Citizens have the right and the responsibility to demand that decisions are made in an open and accountable manner. This is why I have proposed real changes to how all of our elected representatives approach the job of MLA Ã it will be a challenge, but anyone who knows me will agree I have never backed down from fighting for what’s right, democratic and fair.
Regardless of the result of the byelection on December 13, I thank everyone in Whitehorse Centre for sharing their thoughts and concerns with me.
Liz Hanson, NDP leader