Yukon senator turns back on pledge to retire after 8 years

Lang is backing away from his December 2008 pledge to stay on as a senator for only eight years. He formally took office Jan. 2, 2009.

Yukon Senator Dan Lang isn’t retiring anytime soon.

Lang is backing away from his December 2008 pledge to stay on as a senator for only eight years. He formally took office Jan. 2, 2009.

“I’m going year to year,” he told the News on Tuesday. “I have my health and as long as I feel I’m making a contribution in being able to bring forward a position that has merit as a senator I feel I can contribute.”

Lang pointed to his efforts lobbying the federal government to contribute to a number of Yukon projects, from the Mayo B dam to a new $5-million cadet facility the federal government has pledged to build.

When Lang was first appointed to the Senate in December 2008, then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper had plans to create eight-year fixed terms for senators.

At the time Lang told the News he was happy to accept what was supposed to become the new limit.

“I don’t think I would have wanted it to go on any longer,” he said at the time.

Three years later the Conservative government introduced a bill to limit Senate terms to nine years, which Lang supported.

“You can argue the numbers,” he said back in 2011. “But the fact is, I think for the benefit of the chamber, you need rejuvenation. In principle, I think it’s going in the right direction.”

But in 2014 the Supreme Court ruled Senate reform required constitutional amendments, derailing Harper’s plans.

Rejuvenation it seems, is going to have to wait.

Because Senate reform seems improbable at this point — it would require consent from seven provinces representing half the country’s population — Lang says he now supports appointing older senators, which he says will automatically lead to them staying a limited time.

“In my judgment, if you appoint people in the age group of 60-plus year, you will find that most people after eight, nine or 10 years will likely move on to other things.”

Lang, now 68, could serve for another seven years until he reaches the age of 75, the mandatory retirement age.

Since 2013, he’s chaired the Senate’s standing committee on national security and defence. Under his tenure, the committee published a number of reports, from investigating sexual harassment in the RCMP to terrorist threats the country is facing.

While he is quick to highlight the contributions he’s made and the experience he gained, Lang recognizes it is at times a taxing job.

“Of all the regions to represent this is the most difficult because we live the furthest away,” he said.

When he is in Ottawa he is there for business — leaving little time for socializing.

Lang said he only missed a day in eight years as a senator.

“I make myself available and I have a history (in the Yukon) — there is a lot of things I know about and I’m involved in helping making it a better community to live in.”

Contact Pierre Chauvin at pierre.chauvin@yukon-news.com

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