Former elementary school principal Pat Berrel announced yesterday he wants to be the NDP’s MLA for Porter Creek Centre.
The riding is currently held by the Yukon Party’s David Laxton. Berrel is the first to express interest in representing the riding for the NDP. Rod Taylor is seeking the Liberals’ nomination for the riding.
Berrel spent 17 years as the principal of Whitehorse Elementary School before retiring.
He said he wants to improve the relationship between the City of Whitehorse and the territorial government to help with issues like affordable housing.
“Some of the issues are the city’s issues, some are the jurisdiction of the territorial government. The more that we can get a partnership, the better that would be,” he said.
As an educator, Berrel said he’d like to see the McIntyre Creek area and surrounding trails get spruced up and become an educational resource for students and teachers to use.
The area could also become a tourist attraction, he said.
Tourism is an important piece of the Yukon economy, Berrel said.
Along that line, he’d like to see the territory expand its marketing efforts to France.
It’s unique for a small population like the Yukon to offer a direct flight to Europe like Condor Airlines’ flight between Whitehorse and Frankfurt, he said.
“One of the things we could do, again creating partnerships, is look at France as a target. Where we would target French people, using the same flight.”
Getting from France to Frankfurt is an easy trip for Europeans who would then be able to hop on the Condor flight, he said.
“And we have a French community here, AFY, that actually has a tourist department and (that helps with) creating a partnership there and have them help us create some good publicity for tourism in France.”
Porter Creek Centre has been a tight riding in the past. During the 2011 election Laxton won the seat with 39 per cent of the ballots. About 70 votes separated Laxton from the person in third place.
Berrel is familiar with the riding. In 2006 he was campaign manager for Archie Lang, who won the seat for the Yukon Party.
Berrel makes no apologies for his changing allegiances.
“My big thing was social programs, and they actually did a lot of good things for social programs. I know because I was working with NGOs, and there was money flowing, and certainly it shifted after that.”
Berrel has been on the Persons with Disabilities Advisory Committee for the City of Whitehorse. He has been a director with the learning disabilities organization, LDAY, as well as Challenge and the Yukon Association for Community Living.
He said his focus, no matter what political party he’s involved with, has always been on social programs and social justice.
No date has been set for the next territorial election. Premier Darrell Pasloski must call it by this fall.
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