Vuntut Gwitchin MLA Darius Elias has announced he plans to seek re-election in Old Crow during this year’s territorial election.
But questions remain about whether Elias has addressed the drinking problem he admitted to having after he was charged with refusing a breathalyzer test in 2014.
Elias made his announcement during the Northern Premiers’ Forum in Old Crow on Friday.
“It’s been an honour and a privilege for me to help carry our vision forward on your behalf,” Elias told an audience in Old Crow’s community centre. “Over the years as your MLA, I have gained so much experience…. I believe in this community and I believe in each and every one of you.”
In an interview with the News on Tuesday, Elias said he has focused on building “a healthy, vibrant community” in Old Crow since he was first elected in 2006.
“I take this job very seriously,” he said. “I’m going to ask them to rally around me one more time.”
Elias was elected as a Liberal MLA in 2006 and 2011, but quit the party in 2012 to sit as an independent. In 2013, he crossed the floor to join the Yukon Party, where he now sits as House Leader.
In 2014, Elias was arrested for refusing to give a breath sample to police after he was pulled over for talking on his cell phone while driving. He pleaded guilty to the offence, and was fined $1,000 and banned from driving for a year.
At a news conference in May 2014, Elias admitted to struggling with alcohol addiction and said he was seeking professional help, but wouldn’t provide any details.
Premier Darrell Pasloski said Elias would stay with the Yukon Party caucus while he worked through the issue. “People can and do make mistakes,” he said at the time.
On Tuesday, Elias told the News that he has dealt with his drinking problem “very significantly,” but refused to explain how.
“That’s a bit of a private matter. I’ll just keep that to myself,” he said. “I haven’t disclosed any of that publicly.”
However, during a media tour of Old Crow last Friday morning, Elias’s breath appeared to smell of alcohol. When the News mentioned this to him on Tuesday, he paused and said “Oh” before his aide interrupted and ended the interview.
“He has been dealing with it privately and he’s running again. That’ll be up to him and his constituents,” said cabinet spokesperson Dan Macdonald.
“We’ve done publicly the extent of media we’re going to do on this. And there’s no further comments.”
The News followed up with an email to Macdonald asking what has been done to address Elias’s alcohol addiction since 2014. No response was received by deadline.
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