Union business manager Bud McCue has announced he’s seeking the NDP nomination in Lake Laberge for the upcoming territorial election.
McCue, who works for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, which represents Northwestel employees, said he supports the NDP because the party is more sympathetic to labour than the Liberals or the Yukon Party. He believes unions provide employees with better health care and protection on the job.
“And I think the same with the NDP,” he said. “They’ll provide a very good shelter for a lot of Yukoners.”
McCue said he wants to support local businesses and industry. “I find it a little irritating to see major contracts being given to firms from the Outside, knowing that a good portion of that money will not be retained within the Yukon,” he said. “We have a lot of very positive companies that work here, very qualified, that can get the job done.”
Like most prospective NDP candidates, McCue said he wants to promote “responsible mining” in the territory, but he’s opposed to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, because of the possible environmental impacts.
“The cost is going to be our water, and one thing that I moved up here for was a clean environment, the beauty of these mountains and the clean water I drink,” he said.
What pushed him to run for office, though, is the conflict over a residential development planned by the owner of the Takhini Hot Springs. Several residents along the Takhini Hotsprings Road are suing the Yukon government, claiming they weren’t consulted prior to the development plan’s approval.
In the last several months, community meetings held to discuss the issue have descended into shouting matches. McCue said he’s not impressed by how Brad Cathers, the Yukon Party’s MLA in Lake Laberge, has handled the conflict.
“For me to go to these meetings, look at the anger, look at the heated discussions, I became quite aware that he wasn’t taking responsibility for any of the actions that had transpired,” he said. “And that’s why I decided I had to put my hat in the ring.”
McCue said he lives five lots away from the hot springs, and though he isn’t involved with the lawsuit, he has signed petitions opposing the development.
As a union man, McCue also has strong feelings about the state of affairs at the Whitehorse General Hospital. A recent open letter by a hospital physician concluded that the hospital is in crisis due to a lack of beds and a staffing shortage.
“My wife is a nurse over there and we’ve been dealing with this for several years now,” McCue said. “Staffing shortages are huge. The shifts that these men and women work are long. They put in a 12-hour day and quite often are asked if they could put a couple extra in because they’ve run out of staff.”
He said the management of the Yukon Hospital Corporation needs to be revisited.
McCue moved to the Yukon in 1974 and worked as a service technician for Northwestel for 35 years before becoming business manager of the union three and a half years ago.
He said he’s voted NDP since he turned 18, and has been a member of the party for many years. He became involved with the Yukon NDP about three years ago, and has spent time on its policy committee.
McCue will be up against Patrick Winstanley for the NDP nomination in Lake Laberge. Alan Young is the Liberal candidate in the riding.
Cathers has announced he’s running for re-election.
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