In what must be some sort of record, Louis Gagnon has switched political teams just weeks into his pursuit of seeking office.
Gagnon, a 49-year-old restaurateur who spends his days slicing chicken shawarma at the Kebabery, is a longtime Grit.
He served as a director for the Yukon Liberal Party over the past year. And, several weeks ago, he sought the party’s nomination for Whitehorse West.
Now he hopes to carry the NDP flag in the riding. Gagnon downplayed the significance of the switch.
He “hasn’t crossed the floor,” because he hasn’t been elected, he said. Similarly, Gagnon disputes he’s a turncoat.
“I haven’t worn a coat,” he said.
Previously, Gagnon described himself as an “extreme centralist” and extolled the virtues of the Liberal party as a moderate voice in the territory.
Now he calls himself a longtime “social democrat” who happened to find a home with the Liberal Party, but sees the NDP as a better fit.
“Just because you’re in the centre doesn’t mean you’re balanced. And the balance needs to be towards helping people,” he said.
Gagnon withdrew his name from the Liberal nomination shortly before the vote, citing time constraints. The party had shortened the campaign period, for fear of an early election, leaving him with just “four days to knock on 1,100 doors.”
Besides having to keep up the pace of “a time-share salesman,” Gagnon also said his stumping left him feeling that while residents took to him, they were reluctant to support the Liberals.
With Gagnon gone, Cully Robinson, a former school principal, was acclaimed as the Liberal candidate for the riding.
At the time, the two vowed to work together. Now, if Gagnon is nominated, they’ll be competing in a race to knock out Elaine Taylor, Yukon’s minister of Tourism, Culture and the Public Service Commission.
Both preferred to focus on their fight to dislodge the governing party, rather than dwell on Gagnon’s new affiliations.
“There’s not any animosity,” said Robinson.
“I’m not going to war against the Liberals,” said Gagnon. “I’m going to war against the Yukon Party.”
Skeeter Miller-Wright wants to represent the NDP in Copperbelt North. The 61-year-old is best known for two successful court challenges to block a cement batch plant while a member of the McLean Lake Residents’ Association.
The many permutations of the McLean Lake issue has helped shape the NDP platform.
The NDP has called on the Yukon Party to change the Municipal Act to expand the powers of referendums, giving more power back to citizens, but the governing party isn’t interested.
“That’s beyond inexcusable,” said NDP Leader Liz Hanson. “You can’t just leave citizens with no voice. It’s self-evident that something needs to be changed.”
Miller-Wright sought, without luck, a seat on city council during the last municipal election. He’s worked as a social worker, land claims negotiator and mining consultant during his 38 years in the territory.
If nominated, he’ll try to unseat Liberal Leader Arthur Mitchell. The Yukon Party is running Currie Dixon, a government policy wonk.
And, on Wednesday morning, Jean-Francois Des Lauriers announced he will seek the NDP nomination in Porter Creek Centre.
Recently, Des Lauriers ran for the right to represent the NDP in Takhini-Kopper King. He lost the nomination to Kate White.
In Porter Creek Centre, Des Lauriers will square off against fellow New Democrat Cam Kos.
A date for the nomination vote has not yet been set.
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