Local activist Skeeter Wright has announced he is seeking the NDP nomination in Mountainview for this year’s territorial election.
Wright said he chose Mountainview because he wants to take on Premier Darrell Pasloski, who currently holds the riding, if he becomes the NDP candidate.
“I’m going after the leader, the Yukon Party leader,” he said. “That’s who I want to go up against.”
Wright said he’s running for the NDP because he believes the Yukon Party government has failed to work respectfully with First Nations or to seek input from Yukoners on major decisions.
“We’ve been told the Alaska Highway will be four lanes through Whitehorse. We’ve been told there will be a 300-bed seniors’ complex in Whistle Bend. We’ve been told there will be support for fracking,” he said. “We need a government that talks to Yukoners about what may be needed before decisions are made.”
Wright has previously made headlines for his involvement in a number of court cases related to development projects in the Whitehorse area.
For years, Wright and other McLean Lake residents protested quarry development and the operation of a cement batch plant near the lake. They took the city to court twice over the issue, and even made a bid to secede from Whitehorse in 2011.
More recently, in 2014, Wright requested a judicial review of a Yukon Utilities Board decision related to the proposal for Whitehorse’s new liquefied natural gas plant.
“There were an awful lot of people that opposed it. There was a seriously questionable rationale as to why it was installed in the first place,” he told the News on Wednesday.
But Wright insists he’s not opposed to all resource development, a criticism that often dogs the Yukon NDP. In fact, he said he’d like to boost mineral exploration activity in the territory.
“I’ve got some ideas about how this can be done, but I want to discuss it with folks in the exploration industry first and see what they think,” he said.
“There’s nothing wrong with responsible development. There’s definitely nothing wrong with responsible mining development. The stress is on responsible.”
Wright also said the Yukon’s tourism industry could be “greatly expanded.”
Wright is the former executive director of the Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation, and has also worked with the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations.
With Little Salmon/Carmacks, he was involved in the opposition to four controversial amendments to the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act in Bill S-6, which the federal Liberal government has promised to repeal.
“Having been inside different governments, it gives me a different perspective and obviously a lot of experience to draw upon,” he said.
Wright has been a board member of the Boreal Alternative Energy Centre, the Frostbite Music Society, the Yukon Conservation Society and Nature Canada. He has also been a charter member of the Yukon Council on the Economy and the Environment.
In 2011, Wright was the NDP candidate for Copperbelt North, where he still lives. He came in third with 15 per cent of the vote, behind Yukon Party MLA Currie Dixon and then-Liberal leader Arthur Mitchell.
Wright will be campaigning against local lawyer Shaunagh Stikeman for the NDP nomination. Former city councillor Mike Gladish is seeking the nomination for the Liberal Party in Mountainview.
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