Yukon lawyer Rod Snow is making a bid for the NDP nomination in Riverdale North during this year’s territorial election.
Snow has been the managing partner of a private law practice in Whitehorse for 23 years, and has worked with Yukon First Nations and the mining industry.
He said he decided to run for office because of the Yukon Party government’s difficult relationship with First Nations.
“I have to say that I’ve been very disappointed by the unnecessary fights and losing court cases that the Yukon government has waged with Yukon First Nations,” he said. “I want to work with (NDP Leader) Liz Hanson to rebuild bridges to First Nations to restore trust and to realize the promise of First Nation final and self-government agreements.”
Snow said Premier Darrell Pasloski acts as a “cheerleader” for the mining industry, while accusing the NDP of being anti-mining. But he implied that he understands the industry better than Pasloski, because of his work experience.
“I’ve never been a politician, but I’ve been in the game for all of my career. I understand mineral claims, exploration agreements. I understand joint venture agreements and royalties. I understand corporate social responsibility,” he said. “I support a mining industry in the Yukon that plays by the rules, respects First Nations, employs Yukoners and cleans up when it’s all done.”
Snow said uncertainty caused by conflict between the Yukon government and First Nations has made it harder for Yukon’s mining industry to attract investors.
“Industry gets it. They get it,” he said. “Money avoids risk.”
As the first northern president of the Canadian Bar Association, Snow has also worked on behalf of those with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder in the criminal justice system.
He helped Liberal MP Larry Bagnell and former Conservative MP Ryan Leef draft private members’ bills that would require courts to consider FASD as a mitigating factor during sentencing.
Last month, a Yukon Department of Justice study found that the prevalence of FASD in the Yukon justice system is about 17.5 per cent, while Health Canada estimates that just one per cent of Canadians have the disability.
Snow said the Yukon government could do more to educate people about FASD.
“It’s not an easy problem, and I’m not saying there’s a quick fix,” he said. “But there are things around awareness that I think would make a difference.”
Snow has also served as president of the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce and the Rotary Club of Whitehorse, and as a director of the Yukon Chamber of Mines and the Mental Health Association of Yukon.
He seemed underwhelmed by the Yukon’s new mental wellness strategy, released earlier this month.
“I thought it was kind of light, especially given that it was promised five years ago,” he said.
Snow has also spoken out in favour of the NDP’s recent bill that aimed to rid election campaigns of donations from unions and corporations.
“I wanted to voice my view that … the money behind elections should come from the people who vote, not from somebody Outside who may have a particular interest in an outcome of a project in the Yukon,” he said.
Snow lives in Riverdale South, but is running in Riverdale North because his home riding is held by NDP MLA Jan Stick. Former Rendezvous Queen Shirley Chua-Tan, who also wanted to represent the riding for the NDP, has withdrawn because of family commitments, the party confirmed. She has said she will be supporting Snow.
Riverdale North is currently held by Yukon Party MLA Scott Kent, who recently announced he is moving away from Riverdale and will be seeking re-election in Copperbelt South. Mark Beese is now seeking the Yukon Party nomination in the riding. The Liberals have yet to announce a potential candidate.
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