Rouble packs it in

Education Minister Patrick Rouble won't run in the upcoming territorial election. He intends to give up politics and pursue a doctorate in education at the University of Calgary.

Education Minister Patrick Rouble won’t run in the upcoming territorial election.

He intends to give up politics and pursue a doctorate in education at the University of Calgary.

Party insiders expressed shock at Rouble’s impending departure. But it would be no surprise to anyone who spoke to him at the Yukon Party’s recent leadership forum.

When asked about his plans for the future then, he hemmed and hawed for a good half-minute, then gave a nonanswer.

Rouble was said to have harboured leadership ambitions, only to find none of his cabinet colleagues come out to support him. He won’t say whether this is true. But, at the forum, he appeared particularly sour.

Rouble declined an interview request this week. By email, he bragged about the Yukon Party’s accomplishments, then declined to elaborate on his reasons for leaving.

“I’m sure the pundits will invent all kinds of theories,” he wrote. “That doesn’t mean that there is any truth to them, does it?”

Rouble holds the Southern Lakes riding. It would be up for grabs next election, if it still existed.

But Yukon’s electoral map has been redrawn. As a result, Rouble’s riding has merged with Mount Lorne, held by the NDP’s Steve Cardiff.

The matchups for the coming election form a jigsaw puzzle with many missing pieces, for now. But politicians of all stripes are scurrying to prepare, as would-be candidates vie for riding nominations.

In Porter Creek South, the Yukon Party’s nomination fight is between a landlord and a lumberjack.

Mike Nixon, who runs a property management company, gave up his other job as party president this week to seek the nomination. He ran in the recent downtown byelection, losing to NDP Leader Liz Hanson.

Russ Hobbis, owner of Bilsen Creek Tree Service, also plans to run. He was a Yukon Party Candidate for Copperbelt in 2006, losing to Liberal Leader Arthur Mitchell.

Hobbis enjoys one advantage: he’s lived in the riding for 15 years. Nixon lives in Copper Ridge, but he says that, if he were to become MLA, he’d move. Riding members vote June 28.

Porter Creek South is currently held by Liberal MLA Don Inverarity. He won in 2006 by just six votes against Yukon Party candidate Dean Hassard, so he may hold one of the more vulnerable seats.

The Klondike is the one riding with a complete lineup.

The Yukon Party’s Steve Nordick has held the seat since 2006. Last month, after a long stint as the government’s only backbencher, he finally won a cabinet portfolio, as minister responsible for Economic Development and the lottery, liquor and housing corporations.

But Nordick will have to fend off complaints about the territory’s handling of the controversial Slinky placer mine that’s a stone’s throw from homes in the Midnight Dome subdivision.

The NDP’s Jorn Meier ran against Nordick in 2006. He will try again this autumn. Meier is a former president of the Dawson City Chamber of Commerce and the current chair of the Klondike Visitors Association.

Sandy Silver, a school teacher, will run for the Liberals.

This week, the New Democrats trotted out three would-be candidates for Riverdale’s two ridings.

Jan Stick, a former Whitehorse councillor, wants to represent the party in Riverdale South. So does Dave Blottner, executive director of the Boys and Girls Club.

The seat’s held by Health Minister Glenn Hart.

Yesterday, the Liberals announced they have a potential candidate for the riding, too: Dan Curtis, the executive director of Skills Canada Yukon.

In Riverdale North, the NDP’s chief of staff, Peter Lesniak, plans to take another kick at the can. He made an unsuccessful bid in 2006 for Riverdale South.

The NDP has also recruited former cabinet minister Lois Moorcroft to run in Copperbelt South.

The Liberal pick for the riding is Colleen Wirth, the Yukon College’s director of student services. She made an unsuccessful bid for Mount Lorne in 2006.

Steve Cardiff remains the NDP’s man for Mount Lorne. And Leader Liz Hanson is expected to defend the downtown.

As well, it’s expected Kevin Barr, the NDP’s candidate in the last federal election, will enter territorial politics.

The Liberals plan to run Mike Simon, a government electrician, in Lake Laberge. The riding has been held by the Yukon Party’s Brad Cathers since 2002.

And Kerry Huff, former principal of Porter Creek Secondary School, will carry the Liberal flag in Porter Creek Centre. That’s the riding of Archie Lang, minister of Community Services and Highways and Public Works.

The Yukon Party has yet to pick many candidates, but their new leader, Darrell Pasloski, announced a roster of potential picks during last month’s leadership forum.

They include:

* Garry Njootli, past contender to be Vuntut Gwitchin chief and nephew of the late Grafton Njootli, the first aboriginal person to be elected to Yukon’s legislature;

* Mike Crawshay, Haines Junction councillor, past chair of Alsek Renewable Resources Council and past Yukon Party candidate for Kluane;

* Wade Istchenko, co-chair of Alsek Renewable Resources Council;

* Dean Hassard, Yukon Party MLA for Pelly-Nisutlin from 2002-06, candidate for Porter Creek South in 2006;

* Val Boxall, Yukon Party candidate for Mount Lorne in 2006;

* Lana Putnam, advocate for better addictions treatment services, following the recent suicide of her son, Chris.

Contact John Thompson at