“Politicians should be able to change their minds.”
So spoke Rod Taylor after he and city councillor John Streicker announced on Thursday that they are joining the Liberal Party and planning to run in the next territorial election.
Taylor and Streicker both have a history in politics, and not with the Liberal Party. Taylor sought the leadership of the Yukon Party in May 2011, but lost to current premier Darrell Pasloski.
Streicker was the Green Party candidate in the last two federal elections. He announced in November 2014 that he would not be running in this year’s election. He made the decision in part to avoid accusations of vote-splitting with Liberal candidate Larry Bagnell.
Both men spoke about common goals as being more important than party labels.
“No party has a monopoly on all of the best ideas,” said Taylor. “What we really want is what’s best for all Yukoners.”
Asked whether this move was a step toward the Liberal Party leadership, after his failed bid to lead the Yukon Party, Taylor said he can’t imagine the party having a leader other than Sandy Silver “for a long time.”
“There is absolutely no question. I am not here because I think down the road there’s an opportunity,” he said. “Plus I’m too old.”
Streicker said the issues he was most concerned with as a Green Party candidate -“sustainability, diversity, grassroots democracy, social justice” – do align with Liberal Party politics.
“We should stop this idea about being partisan first,” he said. “It’s at the territorial level where we really need more work done. That’s the place where I want to really devote my effort and make as big a difference as I can.”
He added that he will complete his term as a city councillor, which ends in October, and that he hasn’t yet rescinded his federal Green Party membership.
Taylor currently runs an ecotourism company, and he previously headed a waste-to-energy company based in Vancouver. He was instrumental in reviving the Mount Sima ski hill in 2013.
Streicker is a professional engineer specializing in climate change impacts and a lecturer at Yukon College. He has also worked with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Their announcement has come early, as the next territorial election may not be held until October 2016. The Liberals will hold formal nominations and a policy convention in the fall.
But Liberal Leader Sandy Silver said the announcement is being made now because the election could be called “at any time in the next 16 months.”
“It also puts an end to the reference of me being the lone Liberal,” he said. “You couldn’t kick the smile off my face.”
Silver has been the only Liberal MLA in the territorial government since Darius Elias defected to the Yukon Party in 2012.
Taylor and Streicker have yet to decide which ridings they would represent. Silver said he has been approached by about 40 people interested in running for the party, and ridings will be discussed in the fall.
Federal Liberal candidate Larry Bagnell was also present at Thursday’s announcement. He said he hopes this is the beginning of a “red wave” in the territory.
“These two chaps have so much respect in the Yukon,” he said. “They’re really based on principles. They’re going to have a huge effect on the momentum of the Liberal Party in the Yukon.”
He said he thinks Streicker moved from federal to territorial politics as a way to get things done.
“He wanted to make sure that he could work on moving things forward as opposed to just this competition between myself and him and other candidates.”
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