Larry Bagnell: the veteran

Early last week, Larry Bagnell sat in a back room of his campaign office eating soup and a turkey sandwich. He grabbed a mouthful each time he finished answering a question, with the air of someone used to multitasking.

Early last week, Larry Bagnell sat in a back room of his campaign office eating soup and a turkey sandwich. He grabbed a mouthful each time he finished answering a question, with the air of someone used to multitasking.

The Yukon’s Liberal candidate had already been to three campaign stops that morning, and had two more to get to before the end of the day. This was his only window for lunch.

“People think I’m everywhere, and that takes a lot of hard work,” he explained.

Bagnell had visited every Yukon community by the time the writ was dropped in August, and he hasn’t missed a single one of the dozen or so campaign forums in Whitehorse.

But he’s been methodical, too, preferring to recite his party’s platform planks over and over than to throw barbs at the other candidates.

“I don’t like politics that much, actually. I don’t like the route to get there,” he said. “I don’t like partisan politics and bickering. That’s what you have to go through to be able to get to the position where you can do things for people.”

There’s something a little rehearsed about Bagnell now, perhaps because of the decade he spent as the Yukon’s MP before losing to Conservative candidate Ryan Leef in 2011 by 132 votes. He is a fan of lists – when asked about his work as the Yukon director for Industry Canada before he ran for office in 2000, he quickly rattled off “tourism, small business, innovation, industrial development, marketing, trade missions” as some of the portfolios he worked on.

And he’s not afraid to tout his own achievements, which include being named Canada’s hardest-working MP more than once. But he maintains that he’s returned to politics to serve people, particularly those who are disadvantaged. “You know, the big things aren’t as important to me as how you can affect someone’s life. When you’re an MP, at least, sometimes you can help people.”

During this campaign, though, Bagnell has spent a lot of time focused on the big things. He’s been hammering home the Liberal Party’s $60-billion infrastructure plan, its $500-million commitment for aboriginal education infrastructure and its planned 33 per cent increase to the Northern Residents Deduction. He says each of those commitments will be felt in the Yukon, even if the details haven’t yet been worked out.

Still, he’s been forced onto the defensive by persistent attacks from Conservative candidate Ryan Leef on the long-gun registry, an issue that has plagued him for years. Bagnell opposed the long-gun registry for many years, but voted with his party to keep it in 2010, claiming he would have been ousted from the Liberal caucus had he stood his ground. Leef maintains the Liberal Party will reinstate some form of registry, and is simply trying to curry favour with voters by pretending otherwise.

The issue has come up on doorsteps, Bagnell said, but he thinks most Yukoners believe him when he says his party won’t reinstate a registry. “They understand and they’ve moved on.” He also said the Liberals will lower the number of “whipped” votes in Parliament, where MPs are forced to vote with their party.

By all appearances, Bagnell is the candidate to beat in this election. A recent poll from Environics Research gave him a 10-point lead over NDP candidate Melissa Atkinson, and a 12-point lead over Leef.

And late last week, the Council of Yukon First Nations all but endorsed him with a statement urging First Nation citizens to vote strategically. The statement referred citizens to www.strategicvoting.ca, which encourages voters in the Yukon to cast their ballots for the Liberals.

Bagnell said he believes Yukoners see him as having the “best chance” to defeat Leef. In 2011, he said, many people didn’t bother voting for him after a poll gave him a 20-point lead shortly before the election. “They were giving moral support to the NDP and the Greens. And they came to me after and said they just did it on the basis that I couldn’t lose.”

He said many of those people have told him they will vote for him this time around.

But he isn’t taking anything for granted. “I never am confident. I always campaign as if I’m one vote behind right to the eleventh hour. One of my grandmothers said if you’re going to do anything, do it well. And I’ve always tried to remember that.”

Contact Maura Forrest at

maura.forrest@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

During our recent conversation, John Nicholson showed me snapshots of his time working on the Yukon riverboats 70 years ago. (Michael Gates)
History Hunter: Yukon man relives the riverboat days after seven decades

John Nicholson took summer work on Yukon steamers in the 1950s

NDP candidate Annie Blake, left, and Liberal incumbent Pauline Frost. (Submitted photos)
Official recount confirms tie vote in Vuntut Gwitchin riding

Both candidates Pauline Frost and Annie Blake are still standing with 78 votes each

Artist’s rendering of a Dairy Queen drive-thru. At its April 13 meeting, Whitehorse city council approved a zoning change to allow a drive-thru at 107 Range Road. Developers sought the change to build a Dairy Queen there. (Submitted)
Drive-thru approved by Whitehorse city council at 107 Range Road

Rezoning could pave the way for a Dairy Queen

xx
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for April 14, 2021.… Continue reading

Joel Krahn/joelkran.com Hikers traverse the Chilkoot Trail in September 2015. Alaska side.
The Canadian side of the Chilkoot Trail will open for summer

The Canadian side of the Chilkoot Trail will open for summer Parks… Continue reading

École Whitehorse Elementary Grade 7 students Yumi Traynor and Oscar Wolosewich participated in the Civix Student Vote in Whitehorse on April 12. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Yukon Student Vote chooses Yukon Party government; NDP take popular vote

The initiative is organized by national non-profit CIVIX

Yvonne Clarke is the newly elected Yukon Party MLA for Porter Creek Centre. (Submitted/Yukon Party)
Yvonne Clarke elected as first Filipina MLA in the Yukon Legislative Assembly

Clarke beat incumbent Liberal Paolo Gallina in Porter Creek Centre

Emily Tredger at NDP election night headquarters after winning the Whitehorse Centre riding. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Emily Tredger takes Whitehorse Centre for NDP

MLA-elect ready to get to work in new role

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Two new cases of COVID-19 variant identified in territory

“If variants were to get out of control in the Yukon, the impact could be serious.”

lwtters
Today’s Mailbox: Rent freezes and the youth vote

Dear Editor, I read the article regarding the recommendations by the Yukon… Continue reading

Point-in-Time homeless count planned this month

Volunteers will count those in shelters, short-term housing and without shelter in a 24-hour period.

The Yukon’s new ATIPP Act came into effect on April 1. Yukoners can submit ATIPP requests online or at the Legislative Assembly building. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News file)
New ATIPP Act in effect as of April 1

The changes promise increased government transparency

Most Read