City councillor Doug Graham is setting his sights on territorial politics again.
Graham, 60, is looking to represent Porter Creek North in the next territorial election, a riding currently held by Economic Development Minister Jim Kenyon. If Graham wins the Liberal nomination it will be the second time Graham has run for territorial politics.
The last time was in 1978 when Graham was elected into the then-Conservative Party of the Yukon. He served as an MLA for Porter Creek West for three years before resigning his cabinet seat after being investigated by the RCMP.
As Minister of Education and Justice, Graham was charged with attempting to obstruct and influence the outcome of a separate RCMP investigation into acquaintance Barry Bellchambers. Concerns were raised and a wiretap was placed on Graham’s phone by RCMP, which believed he had been disclosing confidential information to Bellchambers about his case.
The RCMP initially decided not to lay charges, but the investigating officer appealed the case against the orders of his superiors. The officer, Sgt. George Wool, was then transferred to rural Yukon. He continued to press the case, however, bringing charges of obstruction of justice and breach of trust before the court.
The charges he brought against Graham were stayed in February ‘82. Wool was transferred to RCMP headquarters in Ottawa a month later.
“It was 32 years ago and I was never charged with anything,” said Graham.
“I resigned as the minister of Justice because of the optics of it.”
Graham tried running in the successive election, but lost the Conservative nomination.
He doesn’t believe the controversy will affect his re-entry into territorial politics.
“I’m a lot older now and I’ve learned a lot since then,” he said.
Eight years ago, Graham considered running as an MLA with the Yukon Party. Now Graham is switching party loyalties.
“I’ve been a conservative most of my life and I don’t like the direction that the current group has taken us,” he said.
“I just think it’s time we had a change in the territory.”
In the 10 years Graham has served as a councillor he’s chiselled a name for himself as a fiscal conservative.
Graham is motivated to run in the next territorial election to help steer the territory away from debt and build up the Yukon’s financial reserves, he said.
Another reason is the slate of Liberals he would be running alongside.
“There’s a really good group of people that I’ve seen coming forward,” he said.
In terms of Porter Creek, Graham said he wants to increase the connectivity of the neighbourhood to other parts of the city.
“The city is already moving in the right direction in Crestview and I’d like to see that continue in Porter Creek,” he said.
“I also want to make sure that the Whistle Bend area is done properly … I’m still really concerned about that and would like to keep an eye on that.”
Graham currently works as the registrar at the Yukon College. He hopes to retire next spring, a move that Graham is hoping will dovetail with his plans of running in the next election.
If the election comes in the fall of 2011 – when territorial terms are slated to end – it also means he won’t have to step back from city council, where he’s served four terms.
Contact Vivian Belik at email@example.com