Small business owner Raj Murugaiyan has announced he will seek the Liberal nomination in Copperbelt North in this year’s territorial election.
Murugaiyan, who owns the gift shop at the Whitehorse airport, said he’d like to improve conditions for business owners in the Yukon. He said small businesses face real challenges when it comes to attracting and keeping qualified workers.
“Starting your own business takes a lot of work and determination, and I am prepared to bring the same level of dedication as the representative for Copperbelt North,” he said in a news release.
Murugaiyan said he was inspired to run for the Yukon Liberals after the latest federal election, which saw the Liberal Party form a majority government.
“Really I was impressed with the present prime minister (Justin Trudeau), so I thought I can do something with this party now,” he told the News. He said he hasn’t previously been involved with the Liberals, but has always followed local politics.
Murugaiyan holds a master’s degree in physics and a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Madras in India. He has worked as a teacher in various countries, including Eritrea and Oman.
He moved to Canada nearly a decade ago, and settled in the Yukon nine years ago with his wife and children.
Murugaiyan said he believes immigrants face major barriers when it comes to finding work in Canada.
“As an immigrant myself, I can understand the struggles and triumphs of those individuals making their home in the territory. It can be a huge adjustment,” he said in the release.
As owner of the gift shop, Murugaiyan said he’s had to wake up at 3 a.m. and work for more than 12 hours a day for several years.
He now volunteers with Yukon Cares, the organization that has sponsored a family of Syrian refugees in Whitehorse.
Murugaiyan lives in Whitehorse West, but has decided to seek the Liberal nomination in neighbouring Copperbelt North, since former journalist Richard Mostyn has already won the Liberal nomination in his home riding.
He said it’s possible that the riding will be contested by other potential Liberal candidates.
Copperbelt North is currently held by Community Services Minister Currie Dixon, who ousted former Liberal leader Arthur Mitchell in 2011. No potential NDP candidates have put forward their names for the riding to date.
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