Yukon North Of Ordinary

News archive for October 17, 2012

Candidate sets out ambitions as Liberal leader

Reuniting Canadians and re-engaging them in the country’s political landscape top Deborah Coyne’s list of priorities in her campaign to be the next leader of the federal Liberal party.

By Ainslie Cruickshank on October 17, 2012 at 3:05 pm


Photo by Vince Fedoroff

GRUELLING ROAD TRIP – Deborah Coyne, a candidate in the running to become the next leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, was in Whitehorse this week as part of her 23-day tour of the Yukon and B.C.

Reuniting Canadians and re-engaging them in the country’s political landscape top Deborah Coyne’s list of priorities in her campaign to be the next leader of the federal Liberal party.

Coyne was in Whitehorse on Tuesday. It was one stop on her 23-day driving tour of the Yukon and B.C.

While in the city, Coyne met with longtime Liberal Larry Bagnell, the former Yukon MP, and Ione Christensen, the territory’s former Liberal senator.

Coyne also addressed a group of Liberal supporters and took questions regarding her platform.

Her campaign’s slogan, One Canada for All Canadians, highlights her aim to create a strong, inclusive national government.

“I find that Canadians are just disconnected from one another, increasingly so under Mr. (Prime Minister Stephen) Harper, but definitely so in the absence of a strong Liberal party,” Coyne told the Star.

“We feel that we’re just a fragmented collection of provinces and territories,” she said.

“I would like to see the Liberal party get back into the game as the party of strong national government, and by that I mean the kind of government that can ensure national health care standards.

“That means you should be able to get comparable health care whether you’re here in Whitehorse or down in Vancouver,” she said, noting the recent concerns regarding chemotherapy delivery in Whitehorse.

Infrastructure is another key priority for Coyne.

Nationally, there’s an infrastructure deficit she said she does not want to leave for her children to deal with.

But more specifically, she is well aware of the infrastructure needs in the North.

“You can see the need as the North opens up, sadly because of global warming, for huge transportation and communications infrastructure that needs to go up here,” she said.

Bagnell and Coyne discussed the North’s infrastructure needs during their meeting.

Bagnell told the Star today he thinks they are of the same mind that the south has had a significant level of infrastructure investment over the last century, something the North now needs.

“Just over 100,000 people live North of 60, and it’s too small a tax base to afford the mammoth infrastructure projects, whether they be hydro, connecting the Internet, roads, ports, all those types of things,” he said.

“The tax base in the North isn’t big enough, so it’s sort of our turn for solid infrastructure, and she’s very keen on infrastructure.”

Developing infrastructure in the North will also be key to managing a strong economy, Coyne said.

“Managing a really good economy despite a sparser population up here is all about the fundamentals. It’s all about the long-term investments, transportation, communications, but also sustainable development.

“Get the scientists onside right now and figure out what we can do. And when you’re doing deals and so forth with China and elsewhere, let’s have a little reciprocity; let’s make sure we’re getting the jobs here and ensuring that the long-term development prospects are enhanced.

“Obviously, minerals, especially, are important up here. But we have to develop it sustainably. We have to get back to respecting science, which Mr. Harper doesn’t do, and if we let the scientists set the standards and the pace, we’ll do a lot better,” she argued.

If she’s chosen as the next Liberal leader, she said, Canadians could expect to see a more engaged and grassroots national government.

She has direct experience managing a national movement, having led the public opposition campaigns to the Meech Lake and Charlottetown accords starting in 1987.

Coyne has never served as an MP, but she did run in 2006 election against Jack Layton in the riding of Toronto-Danforth, which she said was a good experience but obviously not one that would get her elected.

She plans to run again in the next federal election.

She does have other experiences, which Bagnell said make her “a very good addition to the field” of candidates running for leadership.

Prior to her leadership role regarding the Meech Lake affair, Coyne worked as a constitutional lawyer before entering the field of public policy.

She’s worked in the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ontario Secretariat for Disabled Persons, and has taught in the University of Toronto’s law school.

She’s also worked for the Ontario Human Rights Commission, and the Walter and Duncan Gordon Charitable Foundation and the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board.

“I don’t think there will be a lot of candidates for any party with those huge credentials. I think it certainly adds a great dimension to the leadership race,” Bagnell said. “She’s quite an interesting person.”

Coyne, the mother of the late Pierre Trudeau’s only daughter, is running against Trudeau’s son Justin, among other candidates.

“I welcome him in the race,” she said of Trudeau’s recent decision to enter the leadership contest.

“We all have different backgrounds. It will be a competitive race, we will bring our backgrounds and ideas to bear and the supporters and Canadians will decide which of the candidates will best personify the party and best lead the Liberal party in my view back to being the party of one Canada for all Canadians.”

Bagnell did not want to comment on who he might support in the leadership race, noting that the closing date for entering has not passed.

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Oct 17, 2012 at 3:55 pm

She was here on Tuesday?  First I heard about it.  Not much point to a public relations tour if you keep it a secret.

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