So long, senator: Dan Lang retires

Yukon’s senator has announced he is retiring. Dan Lang told the Senate June 22 that he will be walking away as of August 15 after eight and a half years on the job.

Yukon’s senator has announced he is retiring.

Dan Lang told the Senate June 22 that he will be walking away as of August 15 after eight and a half years on the job.

“After 27 years in public service, it has come time for me to move to another chapter in my life,” he said. “I have been very fortunate to serve in elected office for five terms in the Yukon Legislative Assembly starting in 1974-1992, and now eight and a half years as the appointed senator for Yukon.”

Lang is retiring about six years ahead of the mandatory retirement age. In an interview following his announcement he said he never intended to stay until the last possible day.

“I knew that I wasn’t going to stay here until I was 75, I knew that. After I was here for eight years my wife and I started looking at … what we wanted to do later on in life.”

He and his wife Valerie plan to spend more time at home with his children and nine grandchildren, he said.

Lang was appointed to the Senate in 2009 by former prime minister Stephen Harper. He was recommended for the position by the Yukon’s premier at the time, Dennis Fentie.

He most recently has worked as chairman of the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence.

Splitting his time between Ottawa and the Yukon has been difficult he said, especially when he job as chairman of a standing committee required him to be back in Ottawa every Monday.

“Living in both communities you kind of lose touch over time. We live so far away. We live the furthest away.”

As a senator, Lang said he is proud of the work he was able to do to advance projects including the expansion of the Mayo B power plant, the building of the First Nations cultural facilities in Haines Junction, Carcross and Whitehorse and the expansion of Yukon College.

“These types of things are how you can use your office and make Yukon a better place,” he said.

When it comes to the most significant thing he has done in the Red Chamber, Lang points to his sponsorship of a Senate bill to repeal of the long gun registry which passed in 2012.

“That was a real accomplishment for me. I sponsored that bill and we were a minority at that time in the senate,” he said.

“Because of my past experience and working with others, we were able to ensure that that bill became law.”

Since Lang took office, the Trudeau government has changed the way Canada chooses its senators. An independent advisory board for Senate appointments now accepts applications from Canadians who want to become senators. All are appointed as independents.

That board will come up with a shortlist of five, then Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will pick a new Yukon representative.

There’s no word on when the selection process to fill Lang’s seat will start.

“An advisory board is made up of three federal members and two members from each of the provinces or territories where a vacancy is to be filled,” said Paul Duchesne, a spokesperson for the Privy Council Office, in an email.

“As a vacancy was not planned for Yukon until 2023, (so) an advisory board for Yukon has not yet been established.”

Lang said he would recommend Yukoners consider the job.

“Those who feel like they can contribute should take a serious look at it,” he said.

Lang is entitled to receive a full pension since he has served more than six years.

Two months ago a CBC report alleged that Lang and his policy advisor faced allegations of workplace harassment. Both men vehemently denied the report.

Contact Ashley Joannou at ashleyj@yukon-news.com

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