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Meet the candidates: the NDP’s Lisa Vollans-Leduc

Lisa Vollans-Leduc says she started a lifetime of activism in Grade 8, when she joined fellow students in protesting the closure of her small town school.
Yukon NDP candidate Lisa Vollans-Leduc introduces herself during a press conference in Whitehorse on August 17. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)

Lisa Vollans-Leduc says she started a lifetime of activism in Grade 8, when she joined fellow students in protesting the closure of her small town school.

Decades later — 18 years of them spent in the Yukon — she’s running in the 2021 federal election under the NDP banner.

“I just realized if I’m going to do what I love to do, and not feel like I’m going to work every day, it’ll be in an elected position supporting and amplifying the voices of other people to help people feel like they’re being heard. Maybe if I’m lucky, I’ll get an opportunity to do that for Yukoners,” she said in a Sept. 12 interview, during a meet-and-greet in Dawson City as the five-week campaign came to a close.

On the campaign trail, Vollans-Leduc has touted years of LGBT activism and union organizing.

She spent years working with youth in the prison system before returning to school and eventually becoming a policy analyst with health and social services within the Yukon government.

“I understand the government, the inner workings of it,” she said.

Vollans-Leduc is not the only former or current public servant running for the position. While she doesn’t have the name recognition of her Liberal rival, she’s hoping progressive voters will be tired of the status quo on big-ticket issues like climate change, housing and reconciliation.

It’s been 21 years since the Yukon was represented by a New Democrat MP. The riding turned red after social worker Louise Hardy lost to Liberal Larry Bagnell in 2000.

“We’re ready to do things differently and follow through on the commitments that we’re planning that we have in our platform. The Liberals have shown that they’re willing to continue pandering to big business and to their elite friends. That’s the difference between the NDP and the Liberal Party,” she said.

The NDP “Ready for Better” platform promises to fund 500,000 units of affordable housing over the next ten years. There are also plans to waive taxes on affordable rental builds, double the Home Buyer’s Tax Credit and introduce a 20 per cent foreign buyer’s tax.

In particular for northern and rural communities, the party’s platform also promises public transit to connect isolated communities.

“In getting out to communities I’ve started to hear more of that rural requests and interests that Whitehorse folks may not have front of mind,” she said.

“A lot of the platform plans that we have for the NDP are to help take care of folks who may not have been given the best care by the government.”

Among those requests, Vollans-Leduc said expanding virtual healthcare and ensuring that the territory has cell phone coverage are other goals. The NDP platform includes declaring high-speed internet an essential service.

For Vollans-Leduc, climate change is also a personal topic. During the summer she scrambled to protect her Marsh Lake home from flooding, a story she brought up repeatedly on the campaign trail.

“I believe that [reconciliation and climate change] are quite intrinsically linked. Indigenous people have lived off of and with the land for forever, and never ran into the issues that we’re seeing today,” she said.

While all three parties have released plans to tackle climate change, the NDP have promised to spend $35 billion of the Canadian Infrastructure Bank into a “climate bank” to boost investment in renewable energy. The party wants emissions reduced by 50 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030 and has pledged to end fossil fuel subsidies.

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