Liberal candidate Brendan Hanley announces his plans to run for office on Aug. 10 outside the Yukon Arts Centre. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)

Liberal candidate Brendan Hanley announces his plans to run for office on Aug. 10 outside the Yukon Arts Centre. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)

Meet the candidates: the Liberal’s Brendan Hanley

After losing long-time Liberal MP Larry Bagnell to retirement, the federal Liberals needed a star candidate in the Yukon. They found one in the territory’s top doc.

At the height of the pandemic, Yukoners were organizing parades to thank Hanley and his team. But whether that gratitude will follow him into partisan politics remains to be seen.

Hanley said it was big issues — including climate change, the pandemic, housing, opioids and mental health — that motivated him to run.

“The pandemic, of course – both getting through the pandemic and recognizing we’re not completely through yet – but we had to make really big decisions. And often, a lot of time, really society changing decisions,” said Hanley, in an interview on Sept. 13.

“I can use the knowledge I’ve gained, the connections that I’ve made and the issues that I’ve delved into and in great detail over the years to hopefully bring that experience and bring many similar issues that I’ve already been involved in but bringing them onto a new platform.”

“There are all of these really big themes that require really, really big investments and strong advocacy from the territorial viewpoint on all of these issues. We really need to be heard.”

Bagnell held the seat for almost 20 years, except for a narrow defeat in the 2011 election. He bounced back in 2015, but won the previous election by less than one per cent.

Hanley has insisted that his actions as chief medical officer of health were non-partisan, but said he was motivated to run for the federal Liberals because he admired their management of the pandemic.

When he was approached, he agreed to run.

During the five-week campaign Hanley said he has heard from a variety of voters across the territory that they want to see improvements on housing, climate change and mental health care. He said the Liberal government can deliver.

On housing, the party platform proposes spending $72 billion over the next 10 years to expand supply. They’re also proposing an initiative to bring in 9,200 new affordable housing units across Canada, make purchasing homes cheaper for first-time home buyers and restricting foreign ownership and house flipping.

The Liberal platform also includes an Urban, Rural, and Northern Indigenous Housing Strategy.

During his campaign announcement Hanley called climate change a “public health crisis.”

He called the Liberal plan “ambitious.” It includes emissions targets to reach net-zero emissions in 2050, maintaining carbon pricing and $5 billion more over seven years for big emitters to invest in clean technology to reduce emissions.

“I think it’s the best combination of ambitious targets and achievability,” he said. “There are also many opportunities here and opportunities to move towards 100 per cent renewable energy, and using federal investments to help us move along and Yukon to get off diesel burning for electrical generation.”

Hanley said housing, climate change and mental health are all linked with reconciliation. He said a priority for him is completing the 94 calls to action within the TRC – and going beyond them.

“It’s about cultural and language development and education and honoring the agreements and implementation. And it’s been really interesting to have those conversations around the territory as well. I certainly look forward to being an advocate for moving forward to continuing that past work on reconciliation,” he said.

As the economy recovers from COVID-19, Hanley said improving mental health supports for all members of the Yukon community is also critical.

He said big issues, including the opioid crisis, require “a pandemic-like focus” to be resolved.

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Election 2021