Yukon Liberal MP Larry Bagnell has been named the member of Parliament who best represents constituents at the Maclean’s Magazine Parliamentarians of the Year awards earlier this week.
“The prime minister calls me the mailman,” Bagnell told the News from his office in Ottawa, where he was answering emails until well past midnight on Wednesday. “I’m always bringing the constituents’ mail to him and to the ministers.”
He was chosen for the award by MPs from all parties.
Bagnell maintains a schedule that would be exhausting for anyone, let alone a man in his 60s with two young children.
At the moment, he flies from Whitehorse to Ottawa every Sunday to sit in Parliament during the week, and then back again on Thursday night.
On weekdays, he’ll be in the House until 6 or 6:30 p.m., and will often have events at night. After that come the hours of emails.
“When you’re a rural MP like I am, almost everyone knows you, so they have no qualms about emailing you or phoning you and hoping you’ll get back to them.”
He said he’s often at work until 2 or 3 a.m. That’s something he didn’t expect when he took on the job for the first time in 2000.
“I didn’t know it was physically possible to do that.”
Bagnell said he tries to have a personal relationship with as many of his constituents as possible.
Aside from his constituent work, Bagnell has also held positions on various committees. This week, he hosted MPs from across the circumpolar world as vice-chair of the standing committee of parliamentarians of the Arctic region.
He has also tabled a private member’s bill that would require courts to consider fetal alcohol spectrum disorder as a mitigating factor during sentencing.
Bagnell was the Yukon’s MP from 2000 until 2011, when he lost to Conservative MP Ryan Leef. He was re-elected in 2015.
Through that time, he has never held a cabinet position, but he said that’s not something he particularly wants.
“There’s enough to keep you busy 24/7,” he said. “I don’t need any more work, necessarily.”
He said the hardest part of the job is spending so much time away from his wife and two children.
“I really hate to be away from them that long every week,” he said. “I think the people that I help and the things we deliver for the Yukon makes it worth it.”
This isn’t the first award of its kind that Bagnell has won. He’s previously been recognized by the Hill Times awards as the hardest-working MP and the best constituency MP.
But this award, he noted, comes with a trophy.
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