Whitehorse Daily Star

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Larry Bagnell, Joseph Zelezny Lenore Morris, Jonas Smith and Justin Lemphers

Candidates’ campaigns kick into gear

Ed. note: here, the Star takes an early look at the five candidates vying to become the Yukon’s next MP.

By Gabrielle Plonka on September 13, 2019

Ed. note: here, the Star takes an early look at the five candidates vying to become the Yukon’s next MP.


Liberal MP Larry Bagnell says he’s excited to defend his seat in the Oct. 21 election, and is singing the praises of his party’s work this term.

He made the point during a series of conversations the Star had with all five Yukon candidates after the writ was dropped Wednesday. They’re covered in random order in this article.

Bagnell cited the Liberal party as backstopping a “record number” of employed Yukoners, and expanding the number of renewable energy projects. He also referenced curating the Yukon’s first childcare agreement and working successfully with Yukon First Nations groups.

The incumbent also mentioned the development of Yukon College into a university in 2020 and the $26 million in federal funding toward a new sciences building.

“Things are so good,” Bagnell said. “We want to make sure we can keep on going.”

He said he spent the previous two summers door-knocking and will continue over the course of the campaign. He plans to visit as many communities as possible in the next six weeks, adding he has gone to them “many times” already.

“I’ve fought to make sure the little communities aren’t left out of things,” he said.

Bagnell aims to be accessible to voters this month through email and social media.

“I think the main thing I want to say is this government has delivered more than any in the history of the Yukon,” Bagnell said. “I think that’s the strength of the party and the leader.”

Asked about the potential weaknesses of his party, Bagnell suggested his cabinet could improve at communicating its successes.

“Hardly anyone knows about our transit projects, which have made cuts to greenhouse gases … (and) the average Canadian family is roughly $2,000 better off due to tax cuts,” he said.

Bagnell, first elected in 2000, hopes to see the federal Liberals continue to maintain tax benefits for low-income students, increase food security, invest in renewable resources and work to close socioeconomic gaps with First Nations peoples. 

Youth votes are a priority for the candidate, who works with a youth council and tries to speak to young voters while door-knocking.

Bagnell’s campaign office, open to the public, is located at 310 Wood Street. Brad Weston is managing his campaign.


The I.T.-specialist-turned-politician, running with the People’s Party of Canada, hopes to usher in a new era for politics.

“I’d say in the last decade, corruption (in government) has taken hold,” Zelezny said. “Now, there’s an opportunity for starting fresh.”

Zelezny will focus on the “insane” cost of living and protecting free speech in his campaign.

He spoke against the carbon tax and Bill C-69 as hindering domestic industries and forcing importation from conflict countries.

Zelezny said international claims of apocalyptic climate change in 12 years is “just a wealth redistribution scheme” that is needlessly scaring youth.

Zelezny intends to visit every community during his campaign and is looking forward to PPC Leader Maxime Bernier visiting the territory Sept. 27.

Zelezny is extremely active on social media, which he says is his preferred method of engaging candidly with voters. However, he will take a “balanced approach” and will be door-knocking this month.

Zelezny said he believes Bernier to be an “honest, principled and courageous” leader who is straightforward in his campaign promises without “trying to please everybody.”

As for the Quebec MP’s potential weaknesses, Zelezny said the PPC running its first campaign is bound to pose challenges.

“It’s a learning experience; everybody’s human,” he said. “But it’s very exciting.” 

Zelezny said he thinks his platform will excite Yukoners who were previously disillusioned by Canadian politics.

“People who haven’t voted in several decades are getting more interested in the PPC,” Zelezny told the Star. 

Zelezny said the PPC is focused on ending censorship and the political movement toward political correctness. Cancelling the carbon tax and cutting income tax rates are also on the agenda. 

Zelezny plans to engage youth through social media and maintaining accessibility.

Opening a campaign office is not currently a priority, he said, and he encourages voters to reach out through social media, email or phone.

Zachary Erdman is his financial agent. 


The Whitehorse lawyer is running for the Green Party with 10 years’ experience working with the caucus.

Morris told the Star her platform is based on affordability, with a housing focus. She is also focused on environmental issues.

She wants to further commit the territory to renewable energy solutions and revamp the transportation sector with an influx of electric vehicles.

“The Yukon has never elected a Green representative before, so a huge part of the campaign is just getting the word out,” she said.

“I think I’m a strong candidate, and I think the more people that meet me ... the more people are likely to vote for me.”

Morris is hoping to visit every community over the course of the election. She is currently working to arrange meetings with First Nations leaders across the territory.

She will spend every evening over the next six weeks either door-knocking or cold-calling, she says. 

Morris and her team of nearly 100 volunteers will be participating in a number of community events beginning with Sunday’s Terry Fox Run. 

She believes Green Leader Elizabeth May to be “terrific” as a long-time environmentalist, activist and champion for women in leadership.

Asked to describe May’s possible drawbacks, Morris said “she wears her heart on her sleeve, sometimes.” 

At the federal level, Morris said, her party is focused on renewable energy including transitioning away from oil and gas and single-use plastics.

The party also advocates for a $15 hourly minimum wage and pharmacare.

She believes the youth will be the driving factor in this election for her party, and she hopes to engage as many young voters as possible.

“Young people are very concerned about climate change because this stuff is going to be happening in their lifetime,” she said.

Morris’ campaign office is at Waterfront Station, 2237 Second Ave., and she will host an open house from 4 to 9 p.m. today. Susanne Hingley is managing her campaign.


The executive director of the Klondike Placer Miners’ Association was the president of the Yukon Party before securing the Conservative Party nomination.

“People are concerned about affordability: making ends meet and getting by,” Smith said. “I believe in leaving more money in your pocket.”

His campaign will focus on affordability and alternative energy solutions. Smith hopes to increase affordability by advancing housing initiatives and scrapping the carbon tax. He also hopes to remove income tax on parental leave. 

Smith said he hopes to encourage alternative energy solutions as an answer to environmental concerns. He said he’s well-versed in the limitations of alternative energy because he has lived off-grid. He plans to advocate for additional hydro capacity and biomass (energy sourced from organic materials). 

Smith has spent the last two years door-knocking and will continue every night of the campaign. Getting “one-on-one facetime” is his primary campaign method.

Smith told the Star he thinks Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer is “constantly underestimated by his opponents and his pundits,” adding he considers Scheer to be personable and approachable.

As for Scheer’s potential negatives, Smith said “he’s an average guy with five children,” and any weaknesses perceived by Canadians are actually his strengths.

“I would encourage (Canadians) to take another look,” Smith said.

At the federal level, Smith said he believes the party aligns with his platform for the territory, with many issues resonating “from coast to coast.”

Notably, Smith said the Conservative Party plans to challenge Bill C-71 – the firearms bill – which he says is making it harder for Yukoners to feed their families.

Youth are pivotal in this election, he said, and he hopes to connect with them, particularly in the Whitehorse music scene, in which he was once a punk rock musician.

Smith’s campaign office is located at 411 Strickland St., and is open to the public from Monday to Saturday. Linda Benoit is his campaign manager.


The candidate was the president of the Yukon Federation of Labour before accepting the New Democratic Party nomination.

Lemphers is running on a campaign of affordability for housing, childcare and pharmacare, with special attention paid to affordability in rural communities. 

He wants to strengthen the stability of communication infrastructure, ensuring Internet and phone services are reliable and more affordable. 

The campaign will also focus on environmental issues, Lemphers told the Star.

“People are genuinely excited, and in turn, that lights a fire under the team to see how far we can take this,” Lemphers said.

He plans to door-knock as much as possible in tandem with online campaigning.

Over the course of the election period, he will attend community events, volunteering at as many as possible. He also plans to travel across the territory.

Lemphers said he believes NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has a “really powerful story,” and described him as intelligent and humble.

“He is stepping up because he believes in doing the right thing for the people around him,” Lemphers said.

Asked to assess Singh’s potential weaknesses, Lemphers said “weakness is a funny word,” but acknowledged the leader has faced challenges as a person of colour.

“People might think that his skin is the wrong colour for the job, they might think his turban is unacceptable,” Lemphers said.

“When we elect leaders who fall outside what established norms are, we show … we’re willing to see ourselves as part of the global stage.”

Nationally, Lemphers said the NDP will similarly focus on environment, affordability and reconciliation. This will include implementing the Calls for Justice for murdered and missing Indigenous women as well as the Calls to Action listed in the Reconciliation Report.

Lemphers hopes to engage youth through face-to-face connection at schools, events and through door-knocking.

“Youth are very clear about what they want and don’t want,” Lemphers said. “Their feedback is often more pointed and direct.”

The NDP campaign office is located at NVD Place at 220-4201 Fourth Avenue and is open to voters. Anne Tayler is managing his campaign.

See letters, commentaries in today’s five-page Opinion section.

Comments (40)

Up 0 Down 0

Pro Zack! on Sep 22, 2019 at 9:42 pm

Response to Yukoner 79 - It does not sound like you believe that others should form their own opinions. For one, voting is the abdication of a right to an opinion - A transfer of one’s will of the collective as expressed by the one who is almost always expected to toe the party line.

Free votes are rare. You are familiar with the inherent contradictions of the democratic process - n'est pas?

Up 0 Down 0

Yukoner79 on Sep 20, 2019 at 8:49 am

I just wanted to give a shout out to all the candidates, and also remind people to be respectful. It's not easy putting yourself out there, and each candidate is demonstrating a unique set of qualities for you to consider. Don't pay too much attention to the considerable number of comments flogging certain candidates because of their affiliation. This is done just to sway votes. I spoke with Jonas and he's at the top of my list. Looking forward to speaking with the others if they make their way around to my house too. Pay attention to the candidates and think about who you want working for you in Ottawa and at home. But this slate looks great, and it's time for some new blood. So be respectful, leave the signs alone, and talk to candidates. Form your own opinion.

Up 21 Down 8

Dave on Sep 19, 2019 at 12:57 pm

That big flushing sound you hear right now is Justin Trudeau and the Liberal party collapsing due to little Juniors choice of face colour. It’s a pretty long ways to fall when you’ve put yourself on such a high and better than everyone else pedestal. So bye bye Justin, you’ll be a footnote in history.

Up 6 Down 23

Liberal Majority on Sep 19, 2019 at 11:00 am

This is an election about moving forward with the Liberals or moving back to the Harper years under Scheer and the neo cons.
It is 2019, people don't vote on promises made and kept, they vote on ideology and what party represents their values.
We all know that neo cons look after their own inner circle and could care less about the common man. They will give tax breaks to the rich and cut programs for those that need it most. They will lie and break the rules and expect that you will not care.
In 2019 it is a choice between what is right and what is wrong, I am voting Liberal.

Up 7 Down 23

One more time on Sep 18, 2019 at 3:50 pm

Nobody works harder in Ottawa than Larry as voted on by all the other MPs. Put your vote to work for all Yukoners.

Up 25 Down 5

drum on Sep 18, 2019 at 1:12 pm

Do not split votes - they are wasted.
My interests are what is going to be done about the "SHELTER" and what are Seniors, who by the way, are still taxpayers, going to be gaining with a new government. I want good apprenticeship programs in this country instead of not looking after our own youth with foreign workers. Bring back proper classes in schools for pupils that do not want to go to University. (Pre-apprenticeship classes - SHOP) Look after our own before non residents. Stop illegal crossings of our borders.
I worked for 50 years to earn my pensions and are taxed to the limit because of it. Now idle promises that are easy to give before the fact, but what can be achievable and followed through. Look what Trudeau promised in his last campaign and did not follow through.

Up 15 Down 5

Matthew Trickett on Sep 18, 2019 at 6:34 am

Want to see Canadians flock to the polls in record numbers? Easy, add a "non-confident" box on the ballots!
Old saying in life " red, orange or blue, they'll never work for you"

Up 17 Down 6

drum on Sep 17, 2019 at 6:19 pm

Part of platform for Whitehorse. I want to hear what they plan to do about the "SHELTER".
I drove along 4th Avenue at 12:22 pm today and four people were sitting at the tree at the side of the SHELTER on 4th - they were enjoying a bottle of liquor and sharing with great delight. I thought that was against the law!!!!! It was a Vodka bottle - do not try to tell me it was water.

Up 19 Down 7

Charlie's Aunt on Sep 17, 2019 at 3:15 pm

@ David; Unlike you I found Jonas Smith to be very pleasant & engaging. How did his manner compare with other candidates? How would I know? He is only candidate I have had a visit from!

Up 23 Down 6

Sarah on Sep 17, 2019 at 2:07 pm

@David - Jonas stopped by my door as well. He was not rude or unengaging in the slightest. He seemed very competent, intelligent and was very open to hearing every word I had to say, which was a lot. I would think if you have a preconceived idea about any candidate, you will play on that when they visit your door. Is it possible that you, David, were the rude one? I think it takes a lot to knock on the door of a stranger to have a conversation. The least we can do is be polite, and not trample all over candidates on social media. For the record, I am not a Conservative. But I have only seen Jonas at my door thus far, and he was a joy to speak with. Perhaps take the time to speak with these folks and then make up your mind, rather than trying to trample them on anonymous comment threads and hoping to sway votes.

Up 19 Down 1

Honey Badger on Sep 17, 2019 at 1:05 pm

Hello Oya - Great observation. YG is specifically targeting millennials. In its review of the Respectful Workplace Office [2019] millennials are given special mention. YG advances the need to create “respectful” workplaces for “millennials”. Not anyone else.

Up 7 Down 32

David on Sep 17, 2019 at 12:47 pm

Time to vote liberal, don't waste the vote on a split.

Up 11 Down 3

Ginger Johnson on Sep 17, 2019 at 12:20 pm


And campaign signs are everywhere in Whitehorse.
But none for Zelezny.
Maybe he really is this decade's Max Headroom.

Up 31 Down 26

Normal human being on Sep 17, 2019 at 8:00 am

Time to vote conservative, don't waste the vote on a split.

Up 17 Down 2

Dick Palmer on Sep 16, 2019 at 11:51 pm

Please save us from Davis - How are pro-choice and pro-equality an oxymoron? Please explain your reasoning because your conclusion is not apparent from your submission. You must be one of those feelers rather than a thinker, perhaps?

Up 35 Down 1

Oya on Sep 16, 2019 at 2:45 pm

What about seniors/elders? Are they chopped liver in this election? Not even a mention in any one of the pieces. The candidates all seem to think the youth will be the drivers in this election, but every single time I've voted, I've noticed a lot of seniors and very few youth.
While I'm all for getting youth involved, I'm also interested in seeing how each party will treat its elders.
Ask the candidates when they come to your door if they have any specific plans to help seniors. Ask them what they plan to do for Veterans, too.

Up 19 Down 24

Dean LaRue on Sep 16, 2019 at 1:00 pm

David on Sep 16, 2019 at 9:16 am

Candidate Smith was rude and unengaging ?

NO surprise there - he was Darryl Pasloski's number one disciple after all !

Up 16 Down 22

Henry Wensleydale on Sep 16, 2019 at 12:26 pm

Has Sanctimonious Smith ever had a real job ?

Career political toadies are the WORST - they spend all of their time trying to get
elected or reelected instead of doing the job.

Up 5 Down 24

W. E. Kant on Sep 16, 2019 at 10:28 am

Mr. Neutral and Lie Detector provide some illustrative examples of the inherent fallacies embedded within our political system and in our thinking more generally. The symbiotic nature of the body politic and our legalistic determinism shoves us toward the incivility of the categorical imperative - We “Kant” [pun intended] allow this finite way of thinking to persist. It robs of our ability to understand, to comprehend what is other than. There are no absolutes and this form of thought should be abandoned. It is incivility, it breeds Machiavellianism, and it is divisively destructive.

We all exist in context, we all think in context, and there cannot be any sense in which this, that or they can conform to an absolutist’s crystallization of a categorical imperative - Stop and think. Be better than your thinking because we are all subject to the interpretation of our own cognitive filters which are large measure influenced by our feelings, our emotions, and what makes us feel good rather than what would make us good because have been trained to infantilize the human experience - We are our feelings. Society is really structured this way, feelings are easily manipulated, feelings can be used to easily manipulate others - This is the nature of the political campaign, the legal system, and god forbid our society - The great cry. The adversarial polity darting from this issue to that issue with the impulsive rapidity of a firing synapse trying to find its way out of the emotional centre of the brain to “shart” out some lambic resonance...

So... Please remember... When you go to vote that whoever you voted is also embroiled in context and that when they promise something, believe something or assert something it is only for the present purpose of stimulating feeling and emotion. So, discuss ideas, not feelings because feelings really are nothing more than the illusion of thought. They have losses their utility and will continue to do so the further away we move from the real world of lions and tigers and bears.

Up 32 Down 31

David on Sep 16, 2019 at 9:16 am

Jonas Smith stopped by my house the other week and I found him surprisingly unengaging and even a bit rude. He asked me a couple questions but it was obvious he didn't really care what I had to say. Considering his job would be listening to the people and acting on their behalf i thought he would be able to at least pretend to care about me.

Up 9 Down 31

redflag on Sep 16, 2019 at 9:15 am

What's in a name? Quite a lot when you investigate. Especially when the candidate is running on a ticket that underscores immigration control, and climate change as a scam.
Check it out. Beware I say of candidates wanting to control immigration in Canada a Commonwealth country. Canada is a player on the world stage. When you think of immigration think of the immigrants who fought on our side in the World War who were not engaged in genocidal activities, and ethnic cleansing.

Up 10 Down 25

Davis on Sep 16, 2019 at 9:05 am

@ BS "Jonas is NOT a social conservative, he’s pro choice and pro equality for all" - how can that be? Pro choice AND pro equality?? That's an oxymoron!

Up 15 Down 26

Mike R. on Sep 16, 2019 at 6:40 am

All of the candidates are very intelligent and well informed except, the 'Yukon Party' nominee Jonas Smith.
@BS, you live up to your name because Jonas has described himself as a 'Social Conservative' in one of his earliest, 'Get to know the candidate' type interviews.

Up 9 Down 21

Joe on Sep 15, 2019 at 9:46 pm

Lawyer, MBA , raised in the Yukon, great with people and able to represent Yukon best whichever party is in Ottawa, not a hard decision.

Up 16 Down 6

Josey Wales on Sep 15, 2019 at 9:37 pm

Hey folks, google a tune, a parody tune called “how they rule ya”
These days when I think of politics, administrators and their sycophants, what has happened to our country, our town...and many others?

I think of rattle snakes with no rattles, but very toxic venom.

Up 27 Down 5

And you expect me to go to bed without drugs? on Sep 14, 2019 at 8:47 pm

What the world needs is more unemployed politicians!

Up 26 Down 5

And you expect me to go to bed without drugs? on Sep 14, 2019 at 8:46 pm

What the world needs is more unemployed politicians!

Up 24 Down 18

HarvardYaleAndPrincetonMan on Sep 14, 2019 at 3:16 pm


Up 20 Down 46

lie detector on Sep 14, 2019 at 2:19 pm

The 'Con'servatives just wanna con Yukoners into paying for more handouts and subsidies for their crony friends and will just replace the carbon tax with a price on carbon.
Who falls for this garbage?
It will be even more expensive to administer more tax complexity than the current carbon tax that is increasing the cost on everything, meanwhile billions are being squandered around the world with no results or benefits for Canadians.

Scheer commits to Paris accord targets and that means shutting down the oil & gas sector in Canada + energy poverty
Scheer will put a price on carbon for large emitters but says 'it's not a tax'.

Up 3 Down 18

Rick of the Universe on Sep 14, 2019 at 1:35 pm

Out of the night,
When the full moon is bright,
Comes the candidate known as Zorro.
This bold renegade
Carves a "Z" with his blade,
A "Z" that stands for Zorro.

Up 29 Down 8

Gordon of Riverdale on Sep 14, 2019 at 10:58 am


- no candidate office - campaigning on the Internet - nobody has seen the guy -
Is Zelezny actually a virtual reality program ?

Our very own MAX HEADROOM as it were ?

Up 40 Down 5

Steven on Sep 14, 2019 at 10:41 am

Mr. Neutral: Your name belies your message, as you 100% just fear-mongered, especially with the use of the word "Yikes" on the end there.

This election, why don't we let the candidates speak for themselves, instead of everyone trying to scare each other into voting a certain way, or telling each other "Oh, you're just throwing away your vote if you vote for ___________".

I can't think of a more terrible thing to do to destroy the voting process. If everyone voted the way they themselves wanted, instead of being swayed by the vote-thrower-awayers, I think elections might turn out very differently.

Up 66 Down 18

Dave on Sep 14, 2019 at 3:43 am

Hey hey, ho,ho, Larry Bagnells got to go!

Up 56 Down 9

Jack on Sep 14, 2019 at 1:52 am

Time to change these worn out tires.

Up 20 Down 5

Bob Ablanalp on Sep 13, 2019 at 11:09 pm

Does "Zorro" actually LIVE in the Yukon ?
Haven't found even once person that has met this guy

Up 42 Down 24

Guncache on Sep 13, 2019 at 7:18 pm

Mr Neutral, better a "YP" candidate than the disjointed, ineffectual liberal party

Up 45 Down 14

BS on Sep 13, 2019 at 7:10 pm

@ Mr Neutral you are absolutely trying to fear monger. Jonas is NOT a social conservative. He’s pro choice and pro equality for all.

Up 43 Down 19

Wilf Carter on Sep 13, 2019 at 6:07 pm

So Trudeau is setting up to put in place whole new round of taxes.
If you sell your house and make any money, you will get charged capital gains tax.
Increase the GST up to 7%.
Put export tax on goods leaving Canada.
Increase taxes on low income and middle class workers.
Let the rich pay less taxes by keeping their money off shore.
What ever happened to the tax on 1% rich?

Up 49 Down 18

Wilf Carter on Sep 13, 2019 at 5:46 pm

Larry Bagnell comments need correction:
He claims he delivered more than any time in history of the Yukon which is not true unless he is taking credit for the hospital's senior center in Whistlebend and hospitals in Dawson and Watson. The conservative government put in much more money than Larry has done all time he was in office.
Conservative government put in over $100 million in housing and Larry put in $9.6 in four years. Lots of promises but nothing happened.
Infrastructure in last four years down by 70% means less jobs in the private sector.
No money for any kind of economic development over the last 4 years.
The only projects that got money was COW's new building which was estimated at $55 million in all but when real cost came in it was $90 million.
Transit projects - what projects and where? I only know of the COW buying buses that creates more carbon than 30 cars. They burn so much fossil fuels it is unbelievable. Great job of not using electric driven buses which is charged with green energy from our dam.
Record number of employed Yukoners which is simply not true at all. More people left the Yukon to find jobs in the last 4 years.
Folks Yukon federal funding is down so the Yukon Government is increasing everything they can to get more money out of your pockets. Has anyone in the Yukon seen your take home pay go up? None. Yukon students going to post secondary schools like engineering, business, medical, public administration will not be able to afford to go now. So we employ people from NFL to BC not Yukoners.
It will take $90,000 to take a master in business administration.
Our cost of living has gone up by 15 to 20% over the last 4 years because of all the taxes put on by Larry's liberal government.
We are going to lose between $2400 to $3400 a year because we pay BC and Yukon carbon tax on everything. Why do you think gas is $1.43 and 92 cents in Edmonton? Gas prices should be around $1.20 at max but we pay 57 cents a liter more than Edmonton. Larry why is that?

Up 35 Down 68

Mr. Neutral on Sep 13, 2019 at 4:15 pm

Not trying to fear monger here but, watch out for the "YP" candidate he's a social conservative. 'Yikes'

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