Photo by Whitehorse Star
Larry Bagnell, Joseph Zelezny Lenore Morris, Jonas Smith and Justin Lemphers
Photo by Whitehorse Star
Larry Bagnell, Joseph Zelezny Lenore Morris, Jonas Smith and Justin Lemphers
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.
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