German born Jorn Meier came to the Klondike the long way — via the Middle East.
“I came to Canada by accident,” says the 43-year-old Meier, who is the New Democrat’s candidate in the Klondike.
While studying Arabic in the Middle East he met a woman. She brought him to Canada. He arrived in the Klondike in 1993, got his status as a landed immigrant and has lived here ever since.
Meier is currently employed by the Tr’ondek Hwech’in as a network administrator. He also owns Klondike Information Technologies.
The NDP best fits his approach to life, he said.
“Social Democrats over the last 100 years have done most of bringing about what we take for granted in society, be it workers rights, be it human rights,” he said.
“For me to align myself with the social democratic party is a natural fit. The NDP is stronger than the other parties on environmental issues.”
Also, the NDP provides more for small business owners, such as himself, than the other parties, he said.
The fight between former mayor Glen Everitt and current Klondike MLA Peter Jenkins has hurt the town, said Meier.
“It has really dragged this town down into a place that it shouldn’t be. When I arrived here in the ‘90s, it was a great community with a great spirit and we’ve really got beaten down in the last few years. ”
The current territorial government is doing little to help the town, he said, citing the municipality’s lack of communication with the Yukon government and the failure of the Yukon government to pay off the town’s debt.
The government now has had two years to fix that the problems currently facing Dawson, he said.
“In the Municipal Act it says very clearly that the town is run by a mayor and council and, if you absolutely have to, you replace them with a trustee and you make provisions to have elections within a year. Only under extenuating circumstances can you go above and beyond that.
“I don’t see any real effort by YTG to fix that and it might come in the next few months, but it’s been too long.”
Dawson is under a court order to solve its sewage problem by July 2008, and the current system being considered might not work, he added.
“There is no back-up plan. I think the current government has clearly demonstrated its inability to deal with issues that are most important to Dawson.”
The government is not doing everything to meet the mandate and it needs to examine other options, he said.
As for the bridge….
“What bridge?” he said, smiling.
The Yukon is a unique place and the government should think about ways to reconcile environment and business in order to maintain that, he said.
Issues like the bridge must be approached in a planned fashion. In this case, the idea was not properly thought through.
First Nations people must be treated as equal partners.
Currently, this is not the case, as seen in the case of education, and other issues, he said.
An MLA must be visible, take part in the community hold constituency meetings and talk to the people he or she represents, he said.
Meier has a great deal of respect for Jenkins as a member of the community.
Jenkins has gone out of his way to help people, but, as an MLA, Meier Jenkins’ track record is not very good.
Constituency issues have not been well handled by Jenkins, he said.
And he does not understand Jenkins’ claim that he could not accomplish anything while in cabinet.
When you are a deputy premier in a majority party, things should happen, Meier said.
Apart from the advance of the Klondike Institute of Arts and Culture, Meier hasn’t seen much happen in Dawson City.
“You cannot forget your constituency,” he said.
A run at the mayor’s seat is not in the cards — Meier lives in West Dawson, outside city limits.
But as Klondike MLA he will be accessible, he said.
He participates in the community, and has good relationships with people who don’t share his views.
He wants “to stop the cliques that are working against each other.”
Meier said he also believes that a plan must be formulated for environment and economy.
“We have to define areas where there is no economic devolvement and we have to define areas where it is safe to do business, for placer mining, for everybody else.”
The NDP will make this happen, he said.
Dawson needs new blood to get involved and help the community to prosper, he said.
That’s something he can foster, Meier said.
Todd Hardy is a great leader and “under him, we can actually be the government.”
Politicians have to be honest, he added.
When asked a question they should be able to say, “I don’t know the answer, I will look into it.”