Premier Dennis Fentie has called a byelection for Whitehorse Centre on December 13.
He dropped the writ Friday morning. On Wednesday evening, the Yukon Party acclaimed Mike Nixon as its candidate for the riding.
The affable 41-year-old is the past owner of the Family Fun Centre in Riverdale. Today he runs a property management company and a graphic design firm.
He may prove a clever choice for a party that’s routinely portrayed by the opposition as cold-hearted and arrogant.
In 2002, Nixon’s young son, Jack, was diagnosed with autism. He soon discovered there were no services available in the territory that targeted the neurological disorder.
“So I rolled up my sleeves and went to work,” said Nixon. He co-founded Autism Yukon. In co-operation with the territorial government, the group helped establish services for autistic children.
“They took a risk,” he said of the Yukon Party. “And today, many families with children who have autism are benefitting from the services in the Yukon. And these services are second to none.”
He also spent five years working with at-risk youth in the downtown area. “I’ve travelled every street and every alley in downtown Whitehorse, connecting with people in need,” said Nixon.
If elected, Nixon would push for greater benefits for the disabled and elderly, he said.
Nixon also lauded the Yukon Party’s “progressive approach” to social problems that affect the downtown. He named as accomplishments the Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods Act, the street crime reduction unit, support for Habitat for Humanity, a new seniors’ complex and work to revitalize the downtown core.
“I see the good this Yukon Party government is doing, and I want to be a part of it.”
The seat for Whitehorse Centre has sat empty since the NDP’s Todd Hardy succumbed to cancer in late July. Nixon began his acceptance speech by acknowledging Hardy’s legacy.
The meeting was held at the MacBride Museum. It was a perfunctory affair, lasting only about 20 minutes and attended by approximately 50 people.
Nixon will need to hustle. The byelection campaigns of both opposition parties started in September. The NDP is running its unelected leader, Elizabeth Hanson, while the Liberals have thrown longtime downtown resident Kirk Cameron into the race.
Fentie lauded Nixon for his enthusiasm and community spirit. “I don’t think we could have found a better candidate,” he said.
Party president Carel Alexander met Nixon when he first moved to Whitehorse. She was his landlord.
“He’s a genuinely sincere guy that I can’t help but to like when I talk to him,” she said.
Yukon Senator Daniel Lang, who helped found the Yukon Party, welcomed the sight of “a whole new generation” becoming active in the party.
“He’s bringing new ideas. He cares about people and public service. And he knows how to work.”
He should know. Nixon is his son-in-law.
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