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Currie Dixon not seeking re election

Currie Dixon, MLA for Copperbelt North and the territory's Community Services minister, has announced he will not be seeking re-election with the Yukon Party this year.

Currie Dixon, MLA for Copperbelt North and the territory’s Community Services minister, has announced he will not be seeking re-election with the Yukon Party this year.

Dixon became the youngest cabinet minister in Yukon history and one of the youngest in Canadian history after he was elected in 2011 at age 26.

He served first as minister of Environment and Economic Development, and took over the Community Services portfolio in January 2015.

“I’ve really enjoyed my time, and I’m really proud of my time as minister and MLA, but I’m interested in moving on to something new,” he said. “I’m going to be looking for some new opportunities outside of the world of politics.”

Dixon said he hasn’t started looking for another job, but he plans on working in the private sector or the non-governmental sector, rather than in government. He’s also thinking about completing a PhD.

“I’ve been in government now in some form or another since I was 21,” he said. “And I think it’s a good thing for me to change gears a little bit and try something new.”

But Dixon didn’t rule out a return to politics in the future, and said he isn’t planning to move away from the territory. “I’m not done with politics, I would say. But I need a break of sorts.”

Dixon said he’s proud of the current government’s fiscal record, pointing specifically to the territory’s balanced budgets and the fact that it has no net debt.

“It’s something that people don’t acknowledge as often as they should, the fact that we have a government here in Yukon that lives within our means,” he said.

Dixon took over the Community Services portfolio amid controversy in January 2015, after Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis complained that the previous minister, Brad Cathers, was difficult to work with.

Since then, he said, the government has gotten along well with Whitehorse and the communities.

“It’s important to try to maintain very strong personal relationships with mayors and councillors,” he said. “I’ve tried to do that as best I can.” He pointed out that he’s visited every Yukon municipality at least once so far this year.

As minister, he said, he’s especially proud of the $300,000 in this year’s budget for Sport Yukon, Special Olympics Yukon, the Yukon Aboriginal Sport Circle and the Recreation and Parks Association of Yukon.

“I think that money will go a long way to ensuring that sport and recreation is promoted and encouraged throughout the Yukon and that’s really important to me,” he said.

Still, Dixon has faced his share of challenges. In December, Whitehorse city council shot down plans to build an outdoor sports complex in Whistle Bend for the second time, citing concerns that the project could become the city’s responsibility down the road.

Dixon said he was disappointed that what he saw as a “slam-dunk” proposal was never realized.

“If we had known that that was going to be the opinion of the city at the time, we probably wouldn’t have gone down that road in the way that we did,” he said.

Dixon also oversaw the territorial government’s recent decision to own and operate the Dawson City water treatment plant instead of handing it over to the town, because of continuing problems with the facility and higher-than-expected costs.

He said that decision was one example of a larger challenge the government and communities face when it comes to major infrastructure projects.

“It’s great for the Yukon government and Canada to come into a community and build a new water plant and then turn around and walk away, but when we turn around and walk away, someone’s got to run that plant,” he said. “And we’ve seen challenges with the operations and maintenance of infrastructure that we’ve built before.”

He said the government has to strike a balance between building new infrastructure that the communities want and making sure those projects are financially viable.

“I’m sure every community would love to have a Canada Games Centre. But not every community can afford to operate that,” he said.

Dixon said if he were to re-enter territorial politics, it would be with the Yukon Party, as he’s a lifetime member. He also said he’s currently a member of the Conservative Party of Canada, though he let his membership lapse during the later years of the Harper administration.

Dixon is the second Yukon Party MLA to announce that he’s not seeking re-election, after Education Minister Doug Graham said he was leaving territorial politics last week.

Still, he said he’s excited by the new potential candidates joining the Yukon Party, including Cory Bellmore and Geraldine Van Bibber.

“I hope that we stick with the Yukon Party and give Premier Pasloski another chance to continue with his vision,” he said.

He also said he’d like to see more women in politics, as he now has a daughter of his own.

Since Dixon’s announcement, Lindsay Schneider has announced she will seek the Yukon Party nomination in Copperbelt North. Raj Murugaiyan and Ted Adel are both seeking the Liberal nomination in the riding. The NDP has yet to announce a potential candidate.

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