Rod Taylor has withdrawn his bid to become a Liberal candidate in this year’s territorial election.
He said he is no longer able to manage the demands of his ecotourism business from the Yukon, and now plans to move to Campbell River, B.C. to manage the day-to-day operations of the company. He is also planning to spend more time in Ontario to support his aging parents, which he says he wouldn’t have had time for as an MLA.
Taylor said he began to have a change of heart about his campaign after visiting his parents at Christmas and realizing their health is failing. But he only made up his mind after his company’s annual general meeting a couple of weeks ago, when it became clear the business is taking off and will require more of his time.
“I just couldn’t in good faith say … ‘Screw you all, I need to be a politician,’” he said. “And so I phoned Sandy and … he was incredibly gracious about it.”
Taylor said he still plans to help out with the Liberal campaign until he leaves for B.C. He hopes to have moved in time to enrol his daughter in school in Campbell River this fall.
Taylor had been planning to run in Porter Creek Centre, against Speaker David Laxton. As recently as last month, he was saying he would move from his home in the Ibex Valley to Porter Creek before the election.
“He’s sick about this,” said Liberal Leader Sandy Silver. “It took a lot of soul-searching for him and his wife to come to the realization that you can’t do everything.”
Taylor was one of the first potential Liberal candidates to declare his intentions last July. Silver endorsed Taylor during his announcement, something he hasn’t done for more recent aspiring candidates.
“I like Rod a lot,” Silver said. “As a person he’s just such a solid individual. He’s a great voice of reason and a visionary. Not having him running with us is not great, for sure.”
But Silver said he only appeared with the early contenders – Taylor, John Streicker and Tamara Goeppel – to show there was a strong Liberal team.
He said there are no handpicked, “insider” candidates, and the nomination process is open to anyone. He doesn’t plan to endorse anyone else going forward.
“We want it to be open. We want to make sure that every potential candidate is on the same, even footing.”
Still, some Yukon Party MLAs were quick to poke fun at the announcement on social media.
“That embarrassing moment when your star candidate dumps you on Valentine’s Day,” tweeted Justice Minister Brad Cathers on Sunday.
Community Services Minister Currie Dixon chimed in with “1. That’s twice he’s done that 2. Why on earth announce this on a Sunday, let alone V-day 3. Big blow to Libs.”
Dixon was referring to Taylor’s decision not to run for the Yukon Party in 2011, after losing the leadership race to Premier Darrell Pasloski.
Taylor had previously said he would run whether or not he won the leadership. Instead, he bowed out, saying he needed to put more time into his business endeavours.
But Taylor was unfazed by the comments. “It would be incredibly surprising to me if there weren’t people in the Yukon who say a lot worse than that,” he quipped.
Silver said there is no one else waiting in the wings to seek the Liberal nomination for Porter Creek Centre. Last week, former principal Pat Berrel announced his intention to be the NDP candidate for the riding.
Taylor said he doesn’t know whether he’ll ever move back to the Yukon, or whether he has a future in politics. But he didn’t rule out the possibilities.
“The one thing that I’ve learned is never say never.”
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