Yukon Party MLA Brad Cathers announces he is running for the leadership of the Yukon Party in Whitehorse on Dec. 5. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Brad Cathers is running for Yukon Party leadership

He formally announced he entered the race on Dec. 5

Yukon Party MLA Brad Cathers said that health care would be a “top priority” if he’s elected as party leader.

“Reducing wait times for health care, investing in technology, and ensuring that our hospitals have the resources they need are priorities for me,” he said on Dec. 5, when he announced to local media that he’s running for the party’s leadership.

“The hospital corporation is not being properly funded — and that is causing real impacts in the lives of Yukon citizens. I’ve heard it from health professionals and I hear about the impacts from patients who contact me.”

He said the Yukon Hospital Corporation (YHC) has been waiting for millions of dollars in core funding for eight months. The Yukon Party raised this issue several times during the fall sitting of the legislative assembly.

Other priorities include “breathing new life” into the RCMP auxiliary constable program.

Cathers is pitching to Yukoners that he has the experience to deliver results, judging by his track record, he said.

He said he wants caucus to be “diversified,” one that reflects the needs of all Yukoners.

“A Yukon Party government under my leadership will be a caring, fiscally conservative government that respects the rights and freedoms of every Yukon citizen,” he said.

Cathers is somewhat of a political lifer. He’s been re-elected three times.

“Even in 2016, when the tide was against the Yukon Party, I received the fourth highest number of votes of any candidate in the Yukon — and the most for any Yukon Party candidate. I believe this is because I have listened to people, I have worked hard, and tried to do the right thing.”

He said that under his leadership he would work with First Nations governments, municipalities, the federal government and the private sector.

Cathers jabbed at the Yukon Liberals, saying that their government is “indecisive.”

“They have also shown a lack of confidence in their own abilities, in the advice of public servants, and what they hear from ordinary Yukoners by their pattern of repeatedly appointing expensive panels on how to govern. They have shown a lack of capacity to govern.”

Currie Dixon announced on Nov. 21 that he, too, is running for leadership. He told the News then that he wants to make the party more inclusive and progressive.

He said he wants to transform it into “one that takes, very seriously, the role of First Nations in the governance of this territory and the role of First Nations people in the economy.”

Cathers called Dixon a friend.

“We have worked well together in government, and I hope to have that opportunity to do that again,” he said. “Though I want the job, I am also pleased to see him running — because leadership race is good for the Yukon Party’s health.”

He said if Dixon wins, he would continue to serve as the MLA for Lake Laberge and also run in the next election.

Stacey Hassard has been serving as interim leader since the last election. Asked why a leadership race wasn’t called for earlier, Cathers said it was set for this date in order to attract more leadership hopefuls.

The Yukon Party will be choosing its new leader on May 23, 2020.

Contact Julien Gignac at julien.gignac@yukon-news.com

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