David Laxton has resigned suddenly from his position as Speaker of the Legislative Assembly. He is also leaving the Yukon Party to sit as an Independent MLA.
“I have been privileged to serve as Speaker these past four and a half years,” Laxton said in a news release. “However, I have decided that at this time, I need to step back from this role and focus on personal matters.”
On Tuesday, Watson Lake MLA Patti McLeod was sworn in as the new Speaker.
When the News contacted Laxton by phone on Tuesday morning, he was not keen to discuss the issue.
“I’m not taking calls,” he said, before hanging up abruptly.
The Yukon Party announced just last week that Laxton would seek re-election in Porter Creek Centre in this year’s territorial election. He was acclaimed as the candidate for the riding in early April.
Now, it’s unclear whether he will seek re-election, and if he does, whether it will be under the Yukon Party’s banner.
“The Yukon Party has nothing more to add at this time,” wrote Yukon Party president Linda Hillier in an email on Tuesday. “Being that his resignation from caucus was for personal reasons we will be giving him some time before we reach out regarding his nomination.”
Laxton was elected to Porter Creek Centre in 2011. He also ran for the Yukon Liberals in the 2006 election in the same riding, but lost to the Yukon Party’s Archie Lang.
In the release announcing his re-election campaign last week, he spoke highly of the Yukon Party’s performance.
“I love my community and the Yukon Party is working diligently to create a positive and prosperous Yukon,” he wrote at the time.
Laxton was absent from the legislative assembly on Tuesday, though a desk has been prepared for him to sit as an Independent.
When the House convened, McLeod was immediately elected as the new Speaker. She is the first female Speaker in Yukon’s history.
McLeod was first elected as an MLA during the 2011 election to represent Watson Lake. She was elected deputy Speaker in 2011, and has also served as chair of the committee of the whole.
Once McLeod assumed her position as Speaker, House Leader Darius Elias was elected to take over as deputy Speaker.
The changes mean that both McLeod and Elias will receive pay increases, according to salaries listed on the Yukon Legislative Assembly’s website.
All MLAs will receive a basic income of about $76,000 this fiscal year, and an expense allowance of about $14,600.
As deputy Speaker, Elias is entitled to an additional $11,660. McLeod is entitled to an extra $29,000 as Speaker.
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