Three potential Liberal candidates have announced the ridings they hope to run in during the upcoming territorial election.
At the party’s annual general meeting on Saturday, John Streicker said he plans to run in Mount Lorne-Southern Lakes, where he lived before being elected to Whitehorse city council in 2012. He now splits his time between his home there and a second residence in Whitehorse Centre.
Fellow Liberal contender Tamara Goeppel may be part of the reason he chose the rural riding. Goeppel plans to run in Whitehorse Centre, where she was born and raised.
“In 1953, my folks moved to the Yukon and their address is on Drury Street and it’s never changed,” she said. “It was a natural answer to be in Whitehorse Centre.”
Rod Taylor plans to run in Porter Creek Centre. He said he’s currently living in the Ibex Valley, but he’s planning to move to Porter Creek in the near future.
Ramesh Ferris, a fourth potential candidate, announced last week that he plans to run in Whitehorse West.
None of the Liberal hopefuls has been officially nominated, and Liberal Leader Sandy Silver said nomination dates had not been set as of Saturday morning.
But if nominated, some of the candidates will have a long road ahead of them.
Whitehorse Centre is currently held by Liz Hanson, leader of the Yukon NDP since 2009. Hanson handily won her seat in the 2011 territorial election with 63 per cent of the vote.
“I’ve been known to always look for a challenge, so that’s definitely going to be the challenge,” Goeppel said.
Taylor also said he expects the campaign to be “very difficult.” Porter Creek Centre has been held by the Yukon Party since it was created in 2002, and is currently held by Speaker David Laxton.
Mount Lorne-Southern Lakes is currently held by NDP MLA Kevin Barr. Streicker has already run against Barr once, during the 2011 federal election, when he was the Green Party candidate and Barr ran for the NDP. Back then, Streicker took home 19 per cent of the vote, while Barr won just 14 per cent.
“But he’s the incumbent now, and that’s a distinct advantage always,” Streicker said. “And I know he’s active in that community.”
Whitehorse West is currently held by deputy premier Elaine Taylor.
There were no other candidate announcements on Saturday, and Silver took the opportunity to urge people interested in running to put their names forward early.
“If people are thinking about running or participating, now is the time to get involved.”
Still, he said the Liberals are “ahead of the curve,” since the other parties haven’t started announcing candidates.
He also claimed the government won’t hold an election until at least the end of July.
That’s because the premier wrote a letter at the end of 2015 announcing that “Next July I will become the first territorial premier to chair the Council of the Federation.”
“To me, that statement confirmed that they’re waiting at least until after that to hold the election,” explained Liberal Party chief of staff Jason Cunning.
But Cabinet spokesperson Dan Macdonald wouldn’t confirm the timing of the election.
“(Premier Darrell Pasloski) hasn’t determined that yet,” he said.
During a speech on Saturday, Silver stressed that his party aims to “lose the partisanship” and build a “middle ground.”
His potential candidates reflect that, in a way, as many of them have previous ties to other political parties. Streicker ran for the Green Party in two federal elections. Taylor sought the leadership of the Yukon
Party in 2011, but lost to Premier Darrell Pasloski. And Ferris was a Yukon Party member from 2013 until November 2015.
But Silver also seized the chance to lash out at the current government, accusing it of “(keeping) lists of people who are on their side and who are not on their side.”
During an interview on Monday, he clarified that he didn’t necessarily mean the Yukon Party keeps physical lists of its enemies. But he said the government doesn’t shy away from lambasting people it disagrees with.
He pointed to comments made by the premier in the spring of 2015, when Pasloski criticized Whitehorse city council for vetoing a new sports complex in Whistle Bend.
He also said the Yukon government is unfairly blaming the federal Liberal government for a shortfall in next year’s transfer payment.
“I’m concerned that the current government… only wants to work with levels of government that share their stripes,” he said on Saturday. “On the contrary, I believe it’s the role of politicians to lose the partisanship and to focus in on doing what’s best for the majority of Yukoners.”
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