Stacey Hassard’s campaign manager recently cut his New Democrat rival down to size. With a chainsaw.
Frank Thomas, the village of Teslin’s CAO and manager of the Yukon Party’s campaign in Pelly-Nisutlin, unilaterally decided to chop down trees that abutted Michael Hodgson’s property on Nisutlin Drive.
Thomas won’t explain his decision.
The trees, mostly willows and aspen, provided a buffer between Hodgson’s property and the road.
Hodgson, it should be noted, is managing Carol Geddes’ NDP campaign in the riding.
When Hodgson saw the flagging tape hanging from the boughs, he approached the village council and asked politicians to spare the trees.
They posed no danger to motorists or pedestrians and had been there awhile – some were more than 30 years old.
Council agreed. It ordered Thomas to suspend his plans.
But on September 8, while Hodgson was in Whitehorse on business, Thomas went rogue. Ignoring council’s direction, he told work crews to cut down the trees abutting his political rival’s land.
Monday night, the whole affair was back before the village council.
Mayor Clara Jules was visibly upset when she learned the neighbourhood trees had been cut down despite the order to leave them alone, said several people who attended the meeting.
Thomas refused to explain his decision, or apologize.
And Hassard, giggling, told Hodgson to build a fence, said resident Stephen Kremer.
“It was pissing me off, and it wasn’t even my trees,” said Kremer, who attended the village council meeting.
“Sometimes you wonder if it is political.”
Confronted with Hassard’s behaviour, Kremer admits he blew his cool and “raised his voice” to the politician.
The village councillor’s behaviour was “disgusting,” he said.
“He was making light of someone else’s problem.
“When someone in the position he’s in treats someone like that, it pissed me off.”
In an interview Tuesday, Thomas refused to comment on the affair.
“Is this all you have to write about?” said Thomas.
Asked if he was Hassard’s campaign manager, he said, “No.”
Asked if he had any affiliation with Hassard’s campaign, he refused comment. (Calls to the Yukon Party headquarters confirmed he was Hassard’s campaign manager in the riding.)
“Good thing your paper is free – if you had to pay for it, nobody would read it,” said Thomas.
Then he hung up the phone.
For his part, Hodgson wouldn’t comment on the affair, except to say the mayor had apologized on behalf of the village and he’d accepted her apology.
Asked about the affair, Hassard laughed and referred all questions to Jules and Thomas.
“Talk to the mayor and the CAO,” he said.
Asked about his advice to Hodgson about the fence, Hassard again laughed and suggested the paper call Jules and Thomas.
Asked if Thomas was his campaign manager, Hassard said, “No.”
Then he amended his answer.
“He might be,” said Hassard. “We haven’t worried about it that much.”
Hassard beat incumbent Yukon Party Justice Minister Marian Horne for the right to represent the riding in the coming election.
The campaign is going well, he said.
“We’ve got the signs up, we’ve got it going and we’re giving ‘er shit.”
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