David Laxton, centre, announces his plan to run for Whitehorse city council outside city hall on Aug. 16. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Laxton returns to politics with bid for Whitehorse council

‘He happens to be my neighbour and cleans my driveway for me’

Community becomes personal in the Yukon — that’s what David Laxton said on Aug. 16 when he announced his plan to run for Whitehorse city council this fall.

“It’s a community of neighbourhoods, like anywhere else,” said Laxton as he stood outside City Hall with his wife, Leslie. “Each has its own identity, expressions and demands, but each is also linked to the others by respect, sensibility and a common desire for prosperity.”

Laxton, who lives in Porter Creek, co-owns Plantation Flowers and Gifts and spent 22 years in the military.

Laxton also formerly served on the Yukon Legislative Assembly as speaker of the house and a member of the Yukon Party.

In 2016, Laxton was ejected from the Yukon Party and barred from running in the 2016 election after being accused of sexual harassment. He was later charged with sexual assault. In 2017, he was found not guilty.

During Laxton’s press conference, he told the News he had put the incident behind him.

“I’ve got to move on. It’s a way of healing, moving on,” he said. “The election is coming up and it’s time for me to get back into public life.”

Laxton said his experience as an MLA will help him as a councillor. He stressed the point that there’s a diversity of perspectives in Whitehorse and all of those perspectives need to be considered.

“As a former speaker I had to ensure that debate stayed on point despite the passion and positions informing them. As an MLA I had to represent all my constituents regardless of their political stripe because each viewpoint contributed to the vibrancy of the Yukon and shaped its future.”

Ted Laking, spokesperson for the official Opposition caucus, said the Yukon Party will not be endorsing individual candidates in the upcoming municipal elections.

“Our MLAs will work collaboratively with whoever is elected, regardless of political stripe, to support their communities and advocate on behalf of all Yukoners.”

The News asked Laxton about posts on his personal Facebook page, where he has recently shared multiple videos condemning political correctness. The videos focus on the removal of a statue of Sir John A. MacDonald from the grounds of city hall in Victoria, B.C. That decision was made as part of the reconciliation process with the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations.

“Disagreeing with political correctness, some of it’s going so far and just too far,” Laxton said. “There’s a lot of, so much negative voice there that it’s overshadowing the real messages.”

He didn’t specify what the real messages are. He also said he doesn’t know how he would define political correctness, but that he thinks everyone should have a chance to voice their opinions without being shouted over.

In that vein, Laxton said that, if elected, he’s excited to debate and discuss the city’s official community plan (OCP) when it’s reviewed this fall. He didn’t cite any particular area of the OCP.

“I want to dig into the entire thing,” he said. “After this I need to start reading it.”

Laxton also said that in talking to Whitehorse residents, not much has come up in terms of concerns. He said some people have complained about infrastructure, and that he would like to see infrastructure updates, including better barrier-free access.

He then gave resident Amber Harder the chance to speak about one of her concerns.

Harder, a former paramedic, attended the press conference with her service dog, Leo. She’s upset about the cost of licensing service dogs such as hers. Because Leo isn’t neutered, she pays $50 annually for a license (that cost applies to non-service dogs as well).

“If you have a disability with a parking pass, you pay once for life. So why wouldn’t a service dog’s license be good for the animal’s life?” Harder asked.

“Here’s an opportunity, where someone’s running and I have a voice … here’s someone I can approach. He happens to be my neighbour and cleans my driveway for me.”

She said that kind of thing is part of what makes Whitehorse so great. It’s easy to access politicians and people who can help make a change.

“I don’t have a dog, we have a cat,” said Laxton. “I wasn’t aware of the issue with service animals so I’ll look into it and see what the rules are right now.”

Contact Amy Kenny at amy.kenny@yukon-news.com

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