Candidates under scrutiny

Today is the deadline for candidates in the 2006 Yukon general election. The Yukon Party, Liberals and NDP all claim to have 18 candidates.

Today is the deadline for candidates in the 2006 Yukon general election.

The Yukon Party, Liberals and NDP all claim to have 18 candidates. That news will become official at 2 p.m.

Independent candidates — and it sounds like there will be at least one — have the same deadline.

In the past, we’ve learned of heroin trafficking convictions, outstanding loans and have seen candidates charged with offenses while sitting in the legislature (i.e. former Copperbelt MLA Haakon Arntzen, who was convicted of indecent assault after being elected under the Yukon Party banner in 2002. That conviction has been appealed, and a new trial ordered.)

So, The News has asked for full disclosure about the party’s candidates.

 The NDP and the Liberals had admissions to make.

David Hedmann, NDP candidate in Copperbelt, was arrested on drug charges in 1999.

“I received a conditional discharge for possession of marijuana,” Hedmann, a community development consultant with a Master’s degree, said in an interview Monday.

“At the time, I had an application in to Health Canada for medical-use of marijuana.

“I have a chronic back condition and the use of marijuana helped with the pain and the problems of pain-induced nausea.”

Originally charged with intent to sell almost $40,000 worth of pot, Hedmann was convicted on lesser charges, sentenced to hundreds of hours of community service and put on probation for two years.

He does not have a criminal record, he said.

And Hedmann has been free of drugs and alcohol for seven years, ever since his arrest.

“In that time, I’ve worked a lot with people suffering from the disease of addiction, and I’m quite well aware of the lack of services that are available in the community to assist people with that particular disease.

“Something I would work for as an MLA would be increased services for people with the disease of addiction.”

It’s important for would-be politicians to be open about the past, he added.

“I remember when Dennis (Fentie) had his problems,” he said.

“He refused to disclose any details, and it was only through serious investigation by the media that it was disclosed that he was a trafficker in heroin.

“I was growing some marijuana in my house for personal use and to relieve a medical condition.”

Yukon Party leader Dennis Fentie lives in the shadow of his old criminal conviction, of course.

Fentie spent 17 months in a federal penitentiary in the 1970s for trafficking heroin in Edmonton.

He served his time, was released early and subsequently received a federal pardon.

Everybody else on the team is clean, said Yukon Party campaign manager Craig Tuton.

“I ask the question of everybody,” Tuton said Monday.

“During the interview process I directly asked the question.

“I was not given any answers that would lead me to believe otherwise.

“There should be some sort of declaration.

“Everybody has bad days, especially when they’re younger, and they have an opportunity to repay society.

“But, you’re right, we have to ask the question, and I did.”

The Liberals have two candidates with criminal convictions.

Darius Elias, Liberal candidate for Vuntut Gwitchin, was convicted of an assault charge when he was 18, following a fight outside the Kopper King tavern in Whitehorse, said party organizer Jason Cunning.

“He did community service,” said Cunning.

And Southern Lakes candidate Ethel Tizya was once convicted of driving under the influence, said Cunning.

“She didn’t even know how long ago it was.

“She said it was for driving while under the influence of prescription drugs, and she did community service.”

The Liberal Party nominated its last candidate — Steve Taylor of the Klondike — over the weekend.

Val Boxall, former assistant to Economic Development minister Jim Kenyon, completed the Yukon Party roster last week as its candidate in Mount Lorne.

And, while the NDP added Hedmann, Kate White and Karen Gage last week, the party still had three holes to fill Monday morning.

Spokesman Ken Bolton said Gwen Wally would run for the party in Pelly-Nisutlin, but didn’t want to name the party candidates in Watson Lake and Kluane until they had confirmed with the appropriate electoral officers.