Liz Hanson announces to media in Whitehorse on Nov. 22 that she is resigning as NDP party leader. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

UPDATED: Liz Hanson resigns as leader of Yukon NDP

She will remain the MLA for Whitehorse-Centre

In a bid to give the NDP a fighting chance in the next election, Liz Hanson is resigning from her post as the party’s leader, a position she has had for nearly 10 years.

“I feel really good about the timing and about having made this decision,” she told the press on Nov. 22, a day after her resignation was formally announced. “It’s time to begin to focus on the future for the party.”

It’s high time to prepare for the next election, given that it’s nearing the third year that the Liberals have been in power, and that means passing the torch to someone else, she said.

“I really look forward to working with that person, whomever they are.”

Hanson has served as the leader of the Yukon NDP since 2009, when former leader Todd Hardy stepped aside to fight leukemia. Hardy died in 2010 and Hanson was was elected as MLA of Whitehorse-Centre in a by-election that year.

She will remain leader of the party until a successor is named and continue to be the MLA for her riding.

House Leader Kate White told the News that she’s excited for Hanson to take a well-deserved break.

“I’m sad because she’s probably one of the most intelligent people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing,” she said. “That’s a hard thing, you know?”

Asked if she will run for leader or if she’s considering it, White said that she has a lot of conversations to have before settling on a decision like that.

“I have to take a couple of days from the sitting to feel kind of normal,” she said.

Under Hanson’s leadership, the NDP earned Official Opposition status following the 2011 territorial election. After the 2016 election, though, the party dropped to third party. Hanson conceded responsibility for this.

“I think every leader has to assume responsibility,” she said. “It was a disappointment to me and to many because we had been working so hard.”

She braced herself, however, and was still strongly committed, she said.

“That was bolstered for so many years by my relationship with my family and with my husband,” Hanson said, adding that her husband died two months after the last election was called.

“I have to say that was a bit of a kick in the gut. I wasn’t anticipating that, and made it more difficult, in some ways, to carry on with the same sort of vigor that I believe … serving Yukon people as the leader of the New Democratic Party deserves,” she said.

“It’s a challenge to be a political person in any place and being the leader of a party you gotta go at with full drive and full heart.”

Hanson said it’s her hope the NDP, under fresh leadership, will enter the next election with full strength and primed to serve.

“Every once in a while you have to realize where you’re at personally and how that may impact you in terms of your job performance,” she said.

Asked what Hanson is most proud of during her time as leader, she said pushing social justice files and backing the Peel Watershed Final Recommended Plan.

“I was proud to be able to say, right from the beginning, that we supported that Final Recommended Plan and to stand with Yukon First Nation governments and citizens, environmental groups, activists, tabled a petition with 8,000 names on it in the legislative assembly, to sit through the two court cases that went on here, and to finally see the vindication by the Supreme Court of Canada that, in fact, what the framers of the land claims agreements had negotiated was in fact true,” she said.

Another high point was the eventual implementation of a moratorium on fracking, she said.

Hanson, known for her thoroughly researched questions and impassioned speeches, worked in federal and provincial politics as a public servant for 30 years before her foray as leader then MLA.

Hanson’s talking points during the fall sitting included renewable energy and affordable housing.

Details about a leadership race are to be released in the coming weeks.

Hanson said it’s her intention to continue to serve as an MLA until the next election.

“I’m looking forward to it, actually, because I love working with people and I love the constituents in Whitehorse-Centre, which is probably the most diverse riding in the whole of the Yukon,” she said.

Contact Julien Gignac at julien.gignac@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Maria Metzen off the start line of the Yukon Dog Mushers Association’s sled dog race on Jan. 9. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Mushers race in preparation for FirstMate Babe Southwick

The annual race is set for Feb. 12 and 13.

The Yukon government is making changes to the medical travel system, including doubling the per diem and making destinations for medical services more flexible. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Subsidy for medical travel doubled with more supports coming

The change was recommended in the Putting People First report endorsed by the government

Chloe Sergerie, who was fined $500 under the <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> on Jan. 12, says she made the safest choice available to her when she entered the territory. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)
Woman fined $500 under CEMA says she made ‘safest decision’ available

Filling out a declaration at the airport was contrary to self-isolation, says accused

The Yukon Department of Education building in Whitehorse on Dec. 22, 2020. Advocates are calling on the Department of Education to reverse their redefinition of Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) that led to 138 students losing the program this year. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
Advocates call redefinition of IEPs “hugely concerning,” call for reversal

At least 138 students were moved off the learning plans this year

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Your Northern regulatory adventure awaits!

“Your Northern adventure awaits!” blared the headline on a recent YESAB assessment… Continue reading

Yukoner Shirley Chua-Tan is taking on the role of vice-chair of the social inclusion working group with the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences’ oversight panel and working groups for the autism assessment. (Submitted)
Canadian Academy of Health Sciences names Yukoner to panel

Shirley Chua-Tan is well-known for a number of roles she plays in… Continue reading

The Fish Lake area viewed from the top of Haeckel Hill on Sept. 11, 2018. The Yukon government and Kwanlin Dün First Nation (KDFN) announced they are in the beginning stages of a local area planning process for the area. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Local area planning for Fish Lake announced

The Government of Yukon and Kwanlin Dün First Nation (KDFN) announced in… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Fire damage, photographed on Jan. 11, to a downtown apartment building which occurred late in the evening on Jan. 8. Zander Firth, 20, from Inuvik, was charged with the arson and is facing several other charges following his Jan. 12 court appearance. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
More charges for arson suspect

The Inuvik man charged in relation to the fire at Ryder Apartments… Continue reading

The grace period for the new Yukon lobbyist registry has come to an end and those who seek to influence politicians will now need to report their efforts to a public database. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)
Grace period for new lobbyist registry ends

So far nine lobbyists have registered their activities with politicians in the territory

The Government of Yukon Main Administration Building in Whitehorse on Aug. 21, 2020. Some Yukon tourism and culture non-profit organizations may be eligible to receive up to $20,000 to help recover from losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Details released on relief funding for tourism and culture non-profits

Some Yukon tourism and culture non-profit organizations may be eligible to receive… Continue reading

Most Read