Larry’s Liberals focus on family

It's been six days since the writ was dropped, and incumbent MP Larry Bagnell has already visited nine Yukon communities. He expects to hit three more today.

It’s been six days since the writ was dropped, and incumbent MP Larry Bagnell has already visited nine Yukon communities.

He expects to hit three more today.

“I’ve always really fought to make sure rural communities get to see their MP and are heard,” said Bagnell, the first MP in the territory to set up offices in Watson Lake and Dawson City. “Some of these communities are really far from Ottawa – you want to make sure their MP is out and hearing them and I try to get around every year to all the communities.”

The speed and apparent ease of Bagnell’s campaigning comes with practise. He’s done this before, many times.

Seeking his fifth term, Bagnell is celebrating his tenth year on the Hill. And according to him, he “knows how to get things done.

“The main reason I got into politics was to help people,” he said. “The longer I am there the more contacts I get, the more understanding of the complex system I get and the more I can help people.”

The independent, weekly newspaper for parliament, the Hill Times, conducts a survey of all the MPs each year.

This year, Bagnell tied for the title of Hardest Working MP on the Hill, along with fellow Ontario Liberal Peter Szabo.

It’s a title Bagnell has picked up before.

This year, he also tied for worst-dressed MP.

Fashion may not be a main priority for Bagnell, but getting things done for northern communities and families is.

The Liberals will offer numerous platform pieces that have direct results for the North, said Bagnell.

This includes forgivable student loans for health-care professionals who work in rural communities, tax cuts for rural firefighters and more support for local food markets.

Federally, the Liberals say they will boost pensions and establish other options, like a buy-in parallel Canadian pension plan and pension board to help protect employees of bankrupt businesses.

They are also promising the largest refundable program for students in Canadian history, said Bagnell, noting it would bring $4,000 to $6,000 to each student across the nation.

There is also a national childcare initiative forming in the hands of federal Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff. This project would offer a tax credit, as well as employment-insurance-funded leaves for parents who have to take off a significant amount of time to take care of a sick senior or child.

“I’ve heard so many people come up to me and say Canada is drifting away from the type of Canada that has the values they believe in,” said Bagnell. “They want their Canada back.”

The Liberals will do that, he said.

Bagnell is also focusing on the need for affordable housing across the nation, especially in the North.

“A society is often measured by how it treats its most needy,” he said.

When hundreds of people in our prosperous territory are using the food bank, it’s unacceptable, he said. “There’s something drastically wrong.”

Environmental concerns are also outlined in the upcoming Liberal platform, including an investment to increase Canada’s renewable energies by four times what it is now, said Bagnell.

With all this spending, should Canadians worry the Liberals will cultivate the deficit, just as the Conservative’s proposed budget did?

Bagnell doesn’t think so.

“When our platform is released next week, it will show that everything we are spending has been paid for,” he said. “Part of our platform is paying down the debt. Everything in our platform has been very carefully costed.”

Putting the Conservative’s proposed $6-billion tax cut for big businesses on hold is one way the Liberals will keep the costs down, he said.

The Harper government came into a Liberal-made, $30-billion surplus and have now created the biggest deficit in Canadian history, said Bagnell.

Bagnell isn’t worried about backlash from his vote to support the long-gun registry, either.

It was an issue before he was elected and will continue to be for a long time, he said, but he feels the battles he has won for northerners outweigh it.

Bagnell applauds all of his fellow candidates in the territory for stepping up, and especially welcomes New Democrat Kevin Barr who is focusing on First Nation issues – a realm that is usually dominated by Bagnell.

“I think it’s great,” he said. “We need more people that have good relations with First Nations so that we can fight the type of cuts that Ottawa has made to their programs over the last few years. I am certainly delighted that Kevin is running.”

Contact Roxanne Stasyszyn at

roxannes@yukon-news.com

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