Rod Taylor won’t run in the upcoming territorial election.
The 51-year-old businessman challenged Premier Darrell Pasloski’s recent bid to become Yukon Party leader. During the race, Taylor said he planned to run, whether he won or lost.
Not any more. The charismatic wheeler-dealer says he’s had to put his dream of seeking political office on hold for the next 18 months, while he pursues another ambitious plan.
He hopes to turn garbage into gold, in a manner of speaking. Taylor is a founder of Waste-to-Energy Canada, a company that seeks to sell technology that converts municipal waste into energy through a low-emissions process called gasification.
While Taylor was wooing Yukon Party stalwarts and trying, ultimately without success, to persuade them to support his leadership bid, he was also finessing a complicated deal, worth millions of dollars, that would secure important intellectual property rights for his company.
“If this thing hits a home run, it could be a billion-dollar business,” said Taylor. “But the whole thing could go south in a heartbeat if we don’t get this IP.”
The deal proved more complicated than expected. That means for the next 18 months he’ll spend far less time in his mushing outfit, as owner of Uncommon Journeys, and a lot more time in his pinstripe suit, schmoozing with wealthy would-be investors in Vancouver.
“I need to go and raise millions of dollars to make this thing go though. That’s why they need me, because I’m the one with connections to get the money,” said Taylor.
Walking away from the company now would be tough. Taylor’s already persuaded friends, family and in-laws to invest in it.
“I can’t, in good conscience, pursue my political dream at the possible expense of the deal and the business failing, as heartbreaking as it is, and it truly is disappointing. I need to do the right thing.
“If this thing truly takes off, I could be in it longer. But I hope not. I hope I get a big fat cheque and I’ll get the hell out of there, because I have no desire to commute to Vancouver.”
Taylor never shied away from big ideas during the leadership campaign. He promised to work towards hooking up the Yukon to British Columbia’s energy grid – a plan expected to cost upwards of $1 billion.
Reflecting on the campaign, he concedes that, “It was a remarkably ambitious thing to think I could join the party and four days later say I wanted to be leader and premier, and try to do that in 40 days.”
And he was “taken aback by the vehemence by some members of the party who bought into this idea that it was a Liberal coup.”
Before seeking the Yukon Party’s leadership, Taylor flirted with the idea of joining the Liberals – a move that did not sit well with true-blue conservatives within the Yukon Party’s ranks.
“There was a certain naivete I had,” said Taylor. “And I’ve learned a lot.”
Premier Pasloski “was incredibly supportive of my decision,” said Taylor. “They obviously have some great candidates, so frankly, I don’t know if I’ll be missed.
“I still believe the Yukon Party is the right choice for Yukoners. And I’ll help them however best I can.”
Three key Taylor backers won’t seek re-election. One, Environment Minister John Edzerza, is battling leukemia. Speaker Ted Staffen and Public Works Minister Archie Lang are retiring from politics.
Taylor poured cold water on the notion that Staffen and Lang are departing because of dissatisfaction with Pasloski’s leadership.
“I’ve had some good chats to Archie and Ted, and in both those instances, I’m convinced that, if I won, it’s unlikely they would’ve run either. They’ve done their dues and done a great thing for Yukoners, but it’s time for them to step aside.”
Two Taylorites are still seeking office, he noted. One is Tourism Minister Elaine Taylor. The other is Scott Kent, a former Liberal cabinet minister.
“Obviously, I don’t think it has to do with who the premier is. It’s just time.”
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