The owner of Yukon Shine Distillery has put his name forward for the Liberals in Porter Creek Centre.
Karlo Krauzig said he plans to seek the nomination out of concern for the Yukon’s economic future.
“I just feel that the Yukon’s become kind of stagnant in the past few years, when it comes to business,” he said during an announcement on Thursday. “And I think that the government should be doing a little bit more, maybe a lot more, to help support Yukon businesses.”
Krauzig said there’s potential for a manufacturing industry in the Yukon, and he criticized the government for investing too heavily in mining instead of renewable energy.
“Perhaps there should have been some foresight into spending that money into something that might be a little bit longer-term, something a little bit more renewable, something that isn’t commodity-driven,” he said.
Born and raised in the Yukon, Krauzig described himself as a “longtime Liberal supporter.” He said he went door-to-door with Liberal MP Larry Bagnell during his election campaign, and found the experience eye-opening. Bagnell then put him in touch with Yukon Liberal Leader Sandy Silver.
“We discussed what the Liberals are going to try and achieve in the future and I share a lot of that vision for the Yukon.”
Krauzig described himself as a “serial entrepreneur.” Over the years, he’s owned a pet store and worked in real estate development. About eight years ago, he opened Yukon Shine Distillery, which produces vodka and gin.
In 2012, Krauzig made a successful appearance on the CBC reality show Dragon’s Den to try and expand his business. Today, he’s planning a trip to a major food show in Japan, in the hopes of finding an international market for his spirits.
During his announcement, Krauzig said he’s been a strong advocate for changing Yukon liquor laws for the last 20 years. He said that Yukon breweries and distilleries have a hard time competing with B.C. producers, for instance. That’s because a B.C. craft designation allows local distilleries to keep 100 per cent of the proceeds from tasting room sales and to sell directly to restaurants.
Krauzig said he raised the issue with the Yukon government a year ago, but never heard anything back.
“I think that it’s just a small part of what the Yukon needs to look at as far as business,” he said. “We need to look at what’s working outside of the Yukon, and we have to expand on that.”
Krauzig also waded into the carbon tax debate, which has been a contentious issue across Canada as the premiers met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau this week to discuss the possibility of a national price on carbon.
“I’m not sure if a carbon tax is the way to go, but if we are going to look at a carbon tax, it’s got to be revenue-neutral,” he said. “What that means is that any revenue produced from a carbon tax should go towards green energy.”
Krauzig said he believes his entrepreneurial background will help him in his foray into politics. “I think politics really is a lot of PR and common sense and business sense. … I tend to think that I have a fairly good, strong hold on those three categories.”
He said he will be “taking a back seat” in his business endeavours as his campaign gets underway. He also plans to move from his current home in Riverdale to Porter Creek or Whistle Bend, with his wife and two young children. Krauzig is replacing Rod Taylor as a potential Liberal candidate for Porter Creek Centre. Taylor recently announced that he’d withdrawn his bid, as he plans to move to B.C. to pursue business interests.
Porter Creek Centre is currently held by Yukon Party Speaker David Laxton. Former principal Pat Berrel is seeking the nomination for the NDP.
The Liberal Party held its first two nomination meetings this week. John Streicker and Tamara Goeppel were acclaimed as the candidates in Mount Lorne-Southern Lakes and Whitehorse Centre, respectively.
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