With the Yukon Party selecting a new leader on May 23, outgoing interim leader Stacey Hassard reflected on his service.
Hassard spoke to media on May 21 about the new leadership and other topics related to his time in politics.
He wanted to give a shout out to the party’s caucus and staff, saying they are a good and supportive team.
“I certainly couldn’t do my job without them,” Hassard said.
The team was paramount considering the transition from being the government to opposition was not easy, he explained.
The challenge was tough because the party lost its voice, he said. Since it was no longer in power, it really could not have much input into cabinet decisions.
“It’s certainly a different experience,” Hassard said.
Overall, he feels everyone has adjusted well to being the opposition.
Hassard feels he played a key part in keeping the team together and working towards a common purpose, something he says is his biggest accomplishment as interim leader.
“It’s about staying positive and remembering that thousands of Yukoners did vote for us,” Hassard said.
He is hopeful for the party’s future since it is reporting approximately 1,600 new members and over 60 per cent of overall membership casting votes in the leadership election.
Hassard feels this shows the next leader should have a strong base for the next election.
“I think things look really good,” Hassard said.
He offered some advice to the new leader, cautioning him or her not to get caught up in partisan political fights. He urged the new leader to remember that ultimately people enter politics to make the constituents’ lives easier.
“It’s important that whoever the new leader is, really stays grounded and keeps the focus on the people and not the partisan fights that happen,” Hassard said.
Hassard has been the interim leader since November 2016, making his stint over three and a half years. He was first elected on October 2011 and spent five years in government.
For just under two of those years, he served as the minister of economic development, housing and Yukon Liquor Corporation and lotteries.
He explained that he never had the intention of becoming the leader of a party when he entered politics. He did not seek the permanent leadership position because he did not want to hold back any of his colleagues from running, should he throw his name in the hat, adding that currently sitting interim leaders cannot seek permanent leadership.
With his duties soon being reduced, he said he is looking forward to spending more time with his family. However, Hassard will be finishing his term as the Pelly Nisutlin MLA.
Hassard felt it was too early to decide if he would run in the next election, which could be 16-17 months away. He felt there was nothing that he could point to that would discourage him from running.
There are three candidates for leadership, Linda Benoit, Currie Dixon and Lake Labarge MLA Brad Cathers. The party will be broadcasting the results of the leadership election at 7:45 p.m. on May 23 at www.yukonparty.ca.
Contact Gord Fortin at firstname.lastname@example.org