Doug Graham jumps back into politics with surprise run in Whitehorse Centre

After announcing in June he wouldn’t seek re-election in Porter Creek North in this fall’s territorial election, Doug Graham now says he wants to run against NDP Leader Liz Hanson in Whitehorse Centre.

Doug Graham is back in the game.

After announcing in June he wouldn’t seek re-election in Porter Creek North in this fall’s territorial election, the Yukon Party MLA now says he wants to run against NDP Leader Liz Hanson in Whitehorse Centre.

Graham, who currently serves as education minister, said recent work negotiating education agreements with First Nations has made him rethink plans to retire from territorial politics. He’s also been involved with plans to overhaul the territory’s entire education curriculum.

“I haven’t been excited about new projects in a long time, and this is one and I’m really excited about it,” he said when the News reached him at the golf course on Thursday. “So I thought I’d love to see it through.”

He also said the party asked if he’d be willing to run in Whitehorse Centre when it seemed that nobody else was “leaping at the chance to run downtown.” Hanson won the riding handily for the NDP in 2011, with 63 per cent of the vote.

“I’m up for a challenge,” he said.

Graham claims that he genuinely had no plans to run again when he announced his departure in June. Back then, he said he wasn’t interested “in a full-time position anywhere anymore.”

On Thursday, he said that’s still true. “I’d love to see this education (negotiation) through, but I don’t want to work full-time. Like, I just don’t want to,” he said.

He said he’s discussed “several options” with Premier Darrell Pasloski that would allow him to work in education and continue negotiating agreements with First Nations without working full-time “for any length of time,” but he wouldn’t give any details.

He also said he’d be interested in continuing as education minister if the Yukon Party were re-elected, but with a caveat.

“I guarantee that I would not be a cabinet minister for five years,” he said.

Despite these conditions, Graham insists he is in this to win it. “I would never enter something without making the effort to win,” he said. “Honest to God.”

At first, he claimed he’s running in Whitehorse Centre simply because it was the only riding where the Yukon Party didn’t already have a prospective candidate. But he eventually acknowledged that giving Hanson a run for her money “had something to do with it.” Until he made his announcement, Hanson’s only rival was Liberal candidate Tamara Goeppel.

Graham said he used to joke about running against Hanson before he decided not to seek re-election in Porter Creek North.

“I’m going to give it a real good try, that’s for sure. You know, Tamara’s down there and she’s no slouch, either,” he said. “It’ll be fun.”

The news seems to have come as a surprise to Hanson, who tweeted yesterday that Graham told her last week “how much he was looking forward to ‘retirement.’”

Back in June, Graham said he was interested in returning to city council, where he sat from 2000 to 2011.

This week, he didn’t rule out that possibility.

“It depends what happens in this election,” he said. “Never say never, I guess.”

Then he had to get back to his round of golf.

Contact Maura Forrest at

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

Just Posted

Crystal Schick/Yukon News
Calvin Delwisch poses for a photo inside his DIY sauna at Marsh Lake on Feb. 18.
Yukoners turning up the heat with unique DIY sauna builds

Do-it-yourselfers say a sauna built with salvaged materials is a great winter project

Wyatt’s World

Wyatt’s World for March 5, 2021.

Yukonomist: School competition ramps up in the Yukon

It’s common to see an upstart automaker trying to grab share from… Continue reading

The Yukon government responded to a petition calling the SCAN Act “draconian” on Feb. 19. (Yukon News file)
Yukon government accuses SCAN petitioner of mischaracterizing her eviction

A response to the Jan. 7 petition was filed to court on Feb. 19

City councillor Samson Hartland in Whitehorse on Dec. 3, 2018. Hartland has announced his plans to run for mayor in the Oct. 21 municipal election. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillor sets sights on mayor’s chair

Hartland declares election plans

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley receives his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine from Public Health Nurse Angie Bartelen at the Yukon Convention Centre Clinic in Whitehorse on March 3. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
State of emergency extended for another 90 days

“Now we’re in a situation where we see the finish line.”

The Yukon government says it is working towards finding a solution for Dawson area miners who may be impacted by City of Dawson plans and regulations. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Miner expresses frustration over town plan

Designation of claims changed to future planning

Team Yukon athletes wave flags at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games opening ceremony in Whitehorse. The 2022 event in Wood Buffalo, Alta., has been postponed indefinitely. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News file)
2022 Arctic Winter Games postponed indefinitely

Wood Buffalo, Alta., Host Society committed to rescheduling at a later date

Housing construction continues in the Whistle Bend subdivision in Whitehorse on Oct. 29, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon Bureau of Statistics reports rising rents for Yukoners, falling revenues for businesses

The bureau has published several reports on the rental market and businesses affected by COVID-19

Council of Yukon First Nations grand chief Peter Johnston at the Yukon Forum in Whitehorse on Feb. 14, 2019. Johnston and Highways and Public Works Minister Richard Mostyn announced changes to the implementation of the Yukon First Nations Procurement Policy on March 3. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Third phase added to procurement policy implementation

Additional time added to prep for two provisions

Crews work to clear the South Klondike Highway after an avalanche earlier this week. (Submitted)
South Klondike Highway remains closed due to avalanches

Yukon Avalanche Association recommending backcountry recreators remain vigilant

RCMP Online Crime Reporting website in Whitehorse on March 5. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Whitehorse RCMP launch online crime reporting

Both a website and Whitehorse RCMP app are now available

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is preparing for a pandemic-era election this October with a number of measures proposed to address COVID-19 restrictions. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City gets set for Oct. 21 municipal election

Elections procedures bylaw comes forward

Most Read