Every day, as Kirk Cameron walks his son to school, he says hello to the motley crew outside the Salvation Army shelter.
Then, the man vying for Todd Hardy’s former downtown riding, continues on with his day, hobnobbing with members from one of the Yukon’s billion-dollar corporations.
“It’s a complex world,” said Cameron, who wants to be the Yukon Liberal Party’s candidate in Whitehorse Centre.
There are two, billion-dollar, corporations in downtown Whitehorse, he said.
“And, at the same time you are dealing with individuals who are homeless on the street.”
One of these billion-dollar businesses is the Yukon government.
And that’s where Cameron wants to sit.
“Government has the policy, the legislation, the people and the money,” he said.
And with that, it could change the face of poverty in the territory.
But instead, “The territory is spending millions of dollars in this area in little silos,” said Cameron.
His solution: “Let’s get all of those folks in the same room and say, ‘What can we do?’
“We need to form government and bring together bureaucrats, specialists and individuals who’ve worked on the ground and say, ‘What are the best practices we can implement here to make this really work?’”
Cameron’s vision includes First Nation governments, frontline organizations, like Blood Ties Four Directions, government departments and the private sector all working together to battle poverty.
“I want people in the housing business to sit down at that table too, even people in real estate,” he said.
This kind of co-operation is realistic, especially if you can pull strings, said Cameron.
“I know all the big players, if there is such a thing,” he said. “I’m personal friends with a whole bunch of them, and I’d just have to twist their arm.
“There are 20 people I could call today to get a meeting going and get discussion started with the private sector.”
On Thursday, beside the White Pass building at the end of Main Street, a crowd of supporters had gathered, including Liberal MPs Darius Elias and Don Inverarity, Cameron’s campaign manager Mike Travill and former Yukon commissioner Jack Cable.
“I’m emotional,” said Cameron.
“There are good friends here from all over the map.
“And I’m stepping out into new political land.”
Cameron is also stepping into a race that will likely pit him against new NDP Leader Elizabeth Hanson.
“I’ve known Liz a long time,” he said. “And, to be blunt, I think residents of downtown Whitehorse now have two good candidates to choose from.”
Cameron is also running against Hardy’s ghost.
“Todd Hardy was a friend, and he did so much for the downtown,” he said.
“If there’s one word that describes Todd Hardy, it’s ‘passion.’
“I may not have agreed with him on everything that he believed in and said, but the guy believed in this town and this territory.”
Hardy set the bar high, said Cameron.
“And I hope I can bring a set of skills and character and ethics in government, and a belief in the Yukon that may not mirror his, but at least will follow in his footsteps and provide good government for the downtown residents.”
The downtown core is a “really complex weave,” he said.
Not only are billion-dollar corporations juxtaposed with the disadvantaged, there’s an international airport, four levels of government represented, including one First Nation headquarters, as well as other First Nation offices and nongovernment organizations.
“This is the core, not only to Whitehorse, it’s the core to the whole territory,” said Cameron. “It’s the core to transportation and the economic hub of territory, all here in one riding.”
Cameron grew up in Whitehorse when dust from the dirt streets clouded the boardwalks downtown. Thanks to bursaries from the Yukon government, he was able to attend the University of Victoria, as well as Queens.
Fresh out of school, he came back and worked for the government that funded him through most of the 1980s. Then, after a few years working for the province of BC, he ended up in Ottawa with Indian and Northern Affairs.
By the time he was back in Whitehorse, in 1999, working as a negotiator for the Yukon Socio-economic Assessment Act, he couldn’t resist rejoining government, this time as a deputy minister under Pat Duncan’s Liberals.
But it was short-lived, and in 2003, he entered the private sector with a posting at Gartner Lee.
“I reached a point where I had to try something different,” said Cameron, who’d been involved in devolution and settled some land claims, opening the dialogue for more settlements across the territory.
Cameron also worked with Ottawa on a substantial rewrite of the Yukon Act. “We have one of the most up-to-date constitutions of territories in Canada, and it’s a pretty good one,” he said.
Cameron’s background with the federal and territorial government, the province of BC, and the private sector is a political asset, he said. He’s also president of the Yukon’s federal and territorial Liberals.
“It takes people with a breadth of knowledge and experience, in the private and public sector, to be able to represent people of the downtown sector well in the legislature, because it’s not just about one economic group in our society, it’s about the whole picture.”
Contact Genesee Keevil at