Out with the old, in with the new

Elaine Taylor's political future will be revealed next week. "I've been giving it a lot of thought," she said yesterday. "I've just recently made a decision.

Elaine Taylor’s political future will be revealed next week.

“I’ve been giving it a lot of thought,” she said yesterday. “I’ve just recently made a decision. And I’m going to take the next few days to speak to constituents and family, out of courtesy, before I make a formal announcement.”

Following a rash of resignations by the Yukon Party’s old guard, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that Taylor will be next.

Ministers usually don’t stage big announcements to say they’re sticking around. And Taylor noted that she’s served as Tourism minister longer than almost any of her Canadian counterparts and concluded, “it’s been a real privilege”- not what you’d expect to hear from someone planning to seek a third term.

Taylor is MLA for Whitehorse West. Besides being Tourism minister, she is also deputy premier and minister responsible for the Public Service Commission.

Already, five Yukon Party members have declared they won’t run in the looming autumn election. And there’s one thing that ties many of them together: they didn’t support the leadership bid of Premier Darrell Pasloski, who replaced Dennis Fentie in early June.

Archie Lang, minister of Highways and Public Works and Community Services, was the most recent to announce this week he’s done with politics. (See story below.)

Speaker Ted Staffen says he wants to get back to making money in the Yukon’s booming economy.

Environment Minister John Edzerza is resigning for health reasons. He’s battling leukemia in a Vancouver hospital.

Patrick Rouble, minister of Education and Energy, Mines and Resources, is pursuing a doctorate in education at the University of Calgary.

Taylor, Lang, Staffen and Edzerza all supported the failed leadership bid of Rod Taylor.

Meanwhile, the ruling party is absorbing new candidates from their rivals.

This week saw another lapsed Liberal announce he’s seeking a Yukon Party riding nomination. And a former New Democrat also wants to carry the Yukon Party banner.

David Laxton, who ran as a Liberal candidate for Porter Creek Centre in 2006, wants to take the riding for the Yukon Party this autumn. It’s currently held by the departing Lang.

Laxton, 55, was once president of the Yukon Liberal Party. But “it seems to be moving too left for me, personally,” said Laxton. “I was always considered a right-wing Liberal. And my feelings are better aligned with the Yukon Party.”

Like Scott Kent, another former Liberal who switched sides over the past year, Laxton was unhappy with the Liberals’ early support of a plan to protect the Peel Watershed.

In January, Laxton wrote a letter to the editor, warning that if such a plan were adopted, the Scotland-sized swath of northeast Yukon “will only be observed and protected from space through passive remote sensing and constant and committed boundary patrols.”

Laxton also expressed concern “the Yukon Liberal Party was aligning itself very much with the federal Liberal party. They supported the gun registry, and I just don’t think that’s the right thing, for me or for the Yukon.”

But that’s not so, said Jason Cunning, the Liberals’ chief of staff. “Our position on the gun registry is the same when it was introduced in 1995,” he said. “We don’t support it.”

No nomination date has yet been set for the riding, and, so far, no other contenders have expressed their plans to seek the nomination.

Whoever secures the Yukon Party’s candidacy will be up against the Liberal’s Kerry Huff, who was until recently the popular principal of Porter Creek Secondary School. The NDP has yet to name a candidate.

Samson Hartland is making an ever bigger ideological shift than Laxton.

He ran for the NDP in Porter Creek South in 2006. Now he’s seeking the Yukon Party’s nomination for the new riding of Takhini-Copper King.

“Someone said to me the other day, ‘If you aren’t a socialist by the time you’re 20, you have no heart. And if you’re not a conservative when you’re older than 30, you’ve got no brains.’ I think there’s some merit to that.”

Hartland is 32. He let his New Democratic dues lapse about five years ago.

He joined the Yukon Party during its leadership race and stumped for Pasloski.

“He’s someone I truly believe I can work with and rally behind. If it wasn’t for Darrell, I don’t think you’d see me putting my name forward.”

Hartland lives in Lake Laberge, the riding of the Yukon Party’s Brad Cathers, whom Hartland had no interest in

challenging.

But he’s familiar with Takhini-Copper King. He visits his grandmother, who lives there, often.

“I chose it because it’s a new riding, and I think there’s an opportunity for new representation,” he said.

Hartland is a past Whitehorse city councillor and works for the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce.

Contact John Thompson at

johnt@yukon-news.com.

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