The first vice-chair of the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce wants to be the Liberal candidate in Copperbelt North during the upcoming territorial election.
Mike Pemberton said he wants to work on the relationship between local businesses and the government.
“I’m going to be a great voice and advocate for businesses because I believe that small- and medium-sized business needs to be strong in a community so the community remains vibrant,” he said. “And that’s something right now that we’re missing a little bit.”
Pemberton said the Yukon government is overlooking local businesses and sending too much money to Outside companies.
He said the government’s recent announcement of its plan to improve procurement practices is too little, too late.
“Moments away from an election … they realize that it’s an issue,” he said.
In March, Pemberton spearheaded the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce’s Look Inside campaign to promote local businesses.
Soon after, Premier Darrell Pasloski wrote a memo to all Yukon government employees urging them to buy local, in support of the chamber’s campaign.
Pemberton said that move was a start, but it wasn’t enough.
“We need policies, hard and fast policies put in place, so Yukon government dollars are spent in Yukon communities,” he said.
Pemberton said he’s running for the Liberals because they want to “support the people.” He said he’s voted Liberal all his life.
“We want to work hard for the people,” he said. “I think (Liberal Leader) Sandy (Silver) has put together an incredible team, a lot of new faces, a lot of new ideas.”
He said he’s also interested in services for youth, which he believes are currently lacking. He was unimpressed with the opening this week of the new Integrated Supports for Yukon Youth centre downtown, and said he didn’t understand what the government is trying to achieve with the centre.
Instead, youth would benefit from more activities and facilities in Whitehorse subdivisions like Copper Ridge, he said.
“Let’s look at this riding here in Copperbelt North. What is there here for a teenager to do? Nothing,” he said. “If 50 per cent of teenagers got involved … in a youth society in their own neighbourhood, I think that we would see tremendous benefits from that.”
Pemberton has lived in the Yukon for nearly 30 years, and operates several businesses in Whitehorse – Ashley Furniture HomeStore, Erik’s AVU and Cell Phone Central. He said he manages about 25 employees.
He is facing off against Ted Adel and Raj Murugaiyan for the Liberal nomination, but he pointed out that he is the only one of the three that lives in the Copperbelt North riding.
“I just think that I’m going to be the stronger voice for the folks,” he said.
Copperbelt North is currently held by the Yukon Party’s Currie Dixon, who has announced he is not seeking re-election. P&M Recycling owner Pat McInroy is the Yukon Party’s new candidate for the riding. Former French school board chair Andre Bourcier is seeking the NDP nomination.
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