Don Hutton, a former mayor and councillor for the Village of Mayo, has announced his bid to run for the Liberals in Mayo-Tatchun during this year’s territorial election.
He said he was inspired to enter territorial politics in part by the “openness” of the new federal Liberal government.
“It’s almost a black-and-white difference between the former government and the one that’s there now,” he said.
Hutton said he’s disappointed with the relationship between the current Yukon government and First Nations, and pointed specifically to the court battle over the Peel watershed.
He believes the Yukon government should have respected the recommendations of the planning commission, instead of deciding to open up much of the region to mining.
“I felt that was an insult and a slap in the face to everyone that was consulted over that seven-year period,” he said.
Hutton also said he would be a strong voice for Yukon’s rural communities. He said rural residents contribute to the health of Whitehorse’s economy when they come to the city, but they don’t always see “reciprocity.”
“I think sometimes the rural communities get a little bit overlooked.”
Hutton would also like to see the Yukon diversify its economy, possibly by trying to attract technology companies to the territory.
And he’d like to see more agriculture in the Yukon, to cut down on the amount of food that has to be trucked in from Outside.
Hutton has lived his whole life in the Mayo-Tatchun riding. He began his career as a firefighter in the 1970s, and worked as a resource management officer with the federal government until 2003, when the position devolved to the territorial government. He then worked as the Mayo zone manager for the wildland fire management program until his retirement in 2013.
In the 1980s, Hutton became involved in municipal politics, first as a councillor and then as mayor of the Village of Mayo.
During that time, he participated in community land selection negotiations, part of the land claims process, with the First Nation of Nacho Nyak Dun and the federal and territorial governments.
Hutton has also volunteered as a junior curling and indoor soccer coach, and served for 20 years with the Canadian Rangers. In 2011, he received the Premier’s Award of Excellence for his work during heavy winter flooding in Mayo.
Hutton said he’s been a Liberal Party member on and off over the years. “It’s kind of in my blood,” he said. “My parents were Liberals forever.”
Mayo-Tatchun is currently held by NDP MLA Jim Tredger. As critic for the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources, Tredger has come down hard on the government for not doing more to develop renewable energy in the territory. For his part, Hutton said he’s most concerned about the balance between the economy and the environment.
“I absolutely understand that mining is and always has been a big part of Yukon’s history,” he said, but added that the environment is also “hugely important.”
Hutton is not to be mistaken for another Yukon resident of the same name, who was a former president of the Yukon Party.
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