Mayo-Tatchun MLA Don Hutton sits on the opposition side of the legislative assembly on March 8 after announcing his resignation from the Liberal party earlier that day. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)

Mayo-Tatchun MLA Don Hutton sits on the opposition side of the legislative assembly on March 8 after announcing his resignation from the Liberal party earlier that day. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)

Don Hutton resigns from Liberal caucus; endorses NDP leadership

Hutton said his concerns about alcohol abuse and addictions have gone unaddressed

Mayo-Tatchun MLA Don Hutton announced March 8 that he is resigning from the Liberal caucus and will sit as an independent for the remainder of his term.

Hutton said he was pushed to make the decision after his pleas to deal with alcohol abuse and addiction were ignored by the party leadership.

“I’m sorry to say that the concerns I’ve raised have been repeatedly ignored, dismissed or have gone unanswered. This Liberal government that I was elected to be part of has been a deep disappointment to me with their inaction on issues that our communities struggle with, in particular, alcohol abuse and addictions,” Hutton wrote in a letter to his constituents.

He continued to say that he was “saddened” and has “lost confidence” in the Yukon Liberals and Premier Sandy Silver. Hutton will also resign from his role as Deputy Speaker.

“It’s not an easy decision. But you know, the people of Mayo-Tatchun put their trust in me to send me down here to try and get help for these issues. I’ve worked really hard at it. I don’t know what else they can do. I shed tears on more than one occasion, talking about how hurtful the situation has been for my communities,” he said.

Hutton said many people are reeling from trauma and abuse, and turn to drugs to cope. He said the response cannot be just putting them in jail and forgetting about them.

“No, we need to do better for our people,” Hutton said.

Hutton was elected in the 2016 territorial election, after a career in forestry and wildland fire.

He said in the past four years he has attended four funerals in his riding related to substance abuse, and the problems extend to many rural communities.

“For four years, I pleaded and cajoled my colleagues to help my community. Let’s take this one government approach. Let’s have a meeting. Let’s sit down. Let’s talk about how we can deal with this issue. For years. I’m still going to funerals,” he said. “These horrible things are happening every day in my community. I cannot, in all good conscience, not speak out about my government’s failure. So when I lost my confidence in the premier, I decided I’m going to sit as an independent.”

Premier Sandy Silver said he was “disappointed, but not surprised” by the decision.

“Our team has heard his concerns and have made many efforts to involve him in policy conversations on these issues. He has chosen not to join in our conversations,” he said.

Silver said the Liberals have created new nurse practitioner positions in Mayo and Carmacks and opened a mental wellness hub in Carmacks with offices in neighbouring communities. Silver referenced the Putting People First report and said “there is much work still to be done.”

In his letter, Hutton endorsed the NDP and leader Kate White ahead of an election this year. Hutton said he considered crossing the floor but was aware that White does not support that type of action.

“When the time comes for you to consider who you might vote for, I encourage a vote for Kate White’s NDP. Kate is an honest, genuine representative who cares about people ahead of everything else. This is why I hope to see her elected as the Yukon’s next Premier,” he said to constituents in his letter.

Hutton had previously announced he will not run again in the upcoming territorial election. Instead, he said he plans to work in the riding to elect NDP candidate Patty Wallingham.

“I’m incredibly honored that he would endorse me that way,” said White. “What I recognize right now is the courage it took him to do that, because I don’t think that that’s an easy decision to take.”

Hutton’s resignation from the Liberal party changes the numbers in the legislature, but it doesn’t quite shift the balance of power. House speaker and Liberal MLA Nils Clarke will now be required to break a tie vote.

Contact Haley Ritchie at haley.ritchie@yukon-news.com

politics

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

During our recent conversation, John Nicholson showed me snapshots of his time working on the Yukon riverboats 70 years ago. (Michael Gates)
History Hunter: Yukon man relives the riverboat days after seven decades

John Nicholson took summer work on Yukon steamers in the 1950s

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
YUKONOMIST: Another election, another anomaly

Monday’s “double-tie” election is generating some free publicity for the Yukon as Outside news agencies scramble to find someone to interview.

A cyclist rides along the Millenium Trail in downtown Whitehorse on a frigid Feb. 9. Whitehorse city council has passed the first two readings of an e-bike bylaw that would designate how e-bike riders can use city trails. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
First two readings passed on Whitehorse e-bike bylaw

Delegate calls on city to consider age restrictions and further regulations

Whitehorse City Hall at its Steele Street entrance. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Change of plans approved for city hall

Project would see 1966 city hall demolished

A city map shows the property at 107 Range Road. The zoning is now in place for developers to proceed with plans for a Dairy Queen drive-thru. If plans proceed on schedule the new restaurant is anticipated to open in October. (Cyrstal Schick/Yukon News)
October opening eyed for Dairy Queen

Will depend on everything going according to plan

Joel Krahn/joelkran.com Hikers traverse the Chilkoot Trail in September 2015. Alaska side.
The Canadian side of the Chilkoot Trail will open for summer

The Canadian side of the Chilkoot Trail will open for summer Parks… Continue reading

A bulldozer levels piles of garbage at the Whitehorse landfill in January 2012. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)
Rural dump closures and tipping fees raise concern from small communities

The government has said the measures are a cost-cutting necessity

Letters to the editor.
Today’s mailbox: Hands of Hope, the quilt of poppies

Toilets are important Ed. note: Hands of Hope is a Whitehorse-based non-profit… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)
City news, briefly

A look at city council matters for the week of April 12

École Whitehorse Elementary Grade 7 students Yumi Traynor and Oscar Wolosewich participated in the Civix Student Vote in Whitehorse on April 12. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Yukon Student Vote chooses Yukon Party government; NDP take popular vote

The initiative is organized by national non-profit CIVIX

Yvonne Clarke is the newly elected Yukon Party MLA for Porter Creek Centre. (Submitted/Yukon Party)
Yvonne Clarke elected as first Filipina MLA in the Yukon Legislative Assembly

Clarke beat incumbent Liberal Paolo Gallina in Porter Creek Centre

Emily Tredger at NDP election night headquarters after winning the Whitehorse Centre riding. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Emily Tredger takes Whitehorse Centre for NDP

MLA-elect ready to get to work in new role

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Two new cases of COVID-19 variant identified in territory

“If variants were to get out of control in the Yukon, the impact could be serious.”

Most Read