Liberals pick Laberge candidate

Mike Simon wants to be the Liberal MLA of Lake Laberge. The 50-year-old, German-born Yukoner was acclaimed by the party’s riding association January 27. Simon will face an uphill battle in the coming territorial election.

Mike Simon wants to be the Liberal MLA of Lake Laberge.

The 50-year-old, German-born Yukoner was acclaimed by the party’s riding association January 27.

Simon will face an uphill battle in the coming territorial election, which must be called by this autumn. Lake Laberge is about as conservative a riding as it gets, and the incumbent, Brad Cathers, received more than half the votes in the 2002 and 2006 elections.

But the government gravy train stopped chugging past Lake Laberge after the autumn of 2009, when Cathers quit the Yukon Party cabinet and caucus over the ATCO energy privatization debacle.

This spat created an unresolved rift in the governing party. As it grows, so do the potholes along Lake Laberge’s roads. Simon points to them as evidence that their riding is no longer being well-served by their MLA.

This is not for lack of trying on Cathers’ part. During past sittings of the legislature, he has used nearly all of his time during question period to harp on constituency concerns. But he hasn’t won many commitments from Public Works Minister Archie Lang.

Meanwhile, Simon knows bicyclists who are now too frightened to pedal down the Hot Springs Road, for fear of vehicles weaving their way between potholes.

There’s also another controversy simmering on the same road, spurred by owner of the Takhini Hot Springs’ proposal to build condos as part of an expanded resort.

Cathers has opposed this development, as do many nearby residents. The government has yet to make a decision, but Lands Minister Patrick Rouble has made positive remarks about the project.

Simon proposes that he could broker a deal between the two sides. “Brad is adamant on one side of the argument,” he said. “The government is adamant on the other.”

Simon grew up in Hanover, in northern Germany, which he calls “the Canadian North’s twin.” He first visited the Yukon in 1987 and became a Canadian citizen in 1994. He moved to Lake Laberge, from Porter Creek, in 1991.

Simon worked as a construction worker, wiring buildings and working on heating and cooling systems, before he joined the Yukon’s property management branch four years ago.

He thinks the territory can do more to conserve energy. Installing more high-efficiency light bulbs in government buildings would be a start. He has other ideas, too.

“Many schools, for example, they run like they’re occupied all summer long, when they’re empty,” said Simon. “They’re just burning energy.

“The government is the biggest building owner. It should show the public what options are out there.”

The Liberals only have about 30 to 40 members in the riding, Simon estimates.

“But since Christmas I signed up a dozen new members,” he said. “And I’ll keep on doing that.”

Simon admits to having one door shut in his face. But, for the most part, he’s found Laberge residents to be friendly, even if they don’t share his political views. “Nobody has threatened me, or chased their dog after me, or anything like that.”

Loose dogs have become a political controversy in the riding, with residents on two occasions raising public concerns about vicious dogs roaming their neighbourhoods. Simon and Cathers have both heard these complaints, but both are reluctant to support any calls for new regulations.

Residents of Lake Laberge tend to cherish their freedoms. Simon, knowing this, would prefer to see a public education campaign over new laws.

“I’d much rather have people see the danger and do something about it voluntarily,” he said.

Simon is also a big booster of local farms. He has a vegetable plot at Rivendell Farms, where he’s helped grow organically-certified broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and cabbage. “It’s fresh. It tastes so much better. It has real flavour.”

He’d like to see the government do more to support Yukon farms, as well as keep a careful eye out for pesticides that could flow into nearby lakes and rivers.

So far no other party has announced a candidate for Lake Laberge. But Simon speculates that the riding may see a five-way race in the next election: a candidate put forward by each of Yukon’s three existing parties, plus Cathers as an independent and a candidate running with Willard Phelps’ fledgling United Citizens Group.

With the vote-splitting that could ensue, “somebody with 15 per cent could take the seat,” said Simon.

Contact John Thompson at johnt@yukon-news.com.

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

Just Posted

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Are they coming?

One of COVID-19’s big economic questions is whether it will prompt a… Continue reading

Yukon MP Larry Bagnell, along with Yukon health and education delegates, announce a new medical research initiative via a Zoom conference on Jan. 21. (Screen shot)
New medical research unit at Yukon University launched

The SPOR SUPPORT Unit will implement patient-first research practices

Yukon First Nation Education Directorate members Bill Bennett, community engagement coordinator and Mobile Therapeutic Unit team lead, left, and Katherine Alexander, director of policy and analytics, speak to the News about the Mobile Therapeutic Unit that will provide education and health support to students in the communities. (yfned.ca)
Mobile Therapeutic Unit will bring education, health support to Indigenous rural students

The mobile unit will begin travelling to communities in the coming weeks

Premier Sandy Silver, left, and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley, speak during a live stream in Whitehorse on January 20, about the new swish and gargle COVID-19 tests. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Swish and spit COVID-19 test now available in Yukon

Vaccination efforts continue in Whitehorse and smaller communities in the territory

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment in Faro photgraphed in 2016. Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old building currently accommodating officers. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Faro RCMP tagged for new detachment

Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old… Continue reading

In a Jan. 18 announcement, the Yukon government said the shingles vaccine is now being publicly funded for Yukoners between age 65 and 70, while the HPV vaccine program has been expanded to all Yukoners up to and including age 26. (1213rf.com)
Changes made to shingles, HPV vaccine programs

Pharmacists in the Yukon can now provide the shingles vaccine and the… Continue reading

Parking attendant Const. Ouellet puts a parking ticket on the windshield of a vehicle in downtown Whitehorse on Dec. 6, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is hoping to write of nearly $300,000 in outstanding fees, bylaw fines and court fees, $20,225 of which is attributed to parking fines issued to non-Yukon license plates. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City of Whitehorse could write off nearly $300,000

The City of Whitehorse could write off $294,345 in outstanding fees, bylaw… Continue reading

Grants available to address gender-based violence

Organizations could receive up to $200,000

In this illustration, artist-journalist Charles Fripp reveals the human side of tragedy on the Stikine trail to the Klondike in 1898. A man chases his partner around the tent with an axe, while a third man follows, attempting to intervene. (The Daily Graphic/July 27, 1898)
History Hunter: Charles Fripp — gold rush artist

The Alaskan coastal town of Wrangell was ill-equipped for the tide of… Continue reading

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. While Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis is now setting his sights on the upcoming territorial election, other members of council are still pondering their election plans for the coming year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillors undecided on election plans

Municipal vote set for Oct. 21

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decicions made by Whitehorse city council this week.

A file photo of grizzly bear along the highway outside Dawson City. Yukon conservation officers euthanized a grizzly bear Jan. 15 that was originally sighted near Braeburn. (Alistair Maitland/Yukon News file)
Male grizzly euthanized near Braeburn

Yukon conservation officers have euthanized a grizzly bear that was originally sighted… Continue reading

Most Read