Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

HIGH-POWERED SUPPORTING CAST – Mayor Dan Curtis listens to a question from a reporter Thursday afternoon on the Whitehorse waterfront. Premier Sandy Silver (background, third from left) and most members of the Liberal cabinet turned out for Curtis’ announcement about his political plans.

Curtis plans second run for territorial office

Mayor Dan Curtis is leaving his city office by next autumn.

By Tim Giilck on January 15, 2021

Mayor Dan Curtis is leaving his city office by next autumn. The only question remaining to be answered is just how it will happen.

At a news conference held Thursday afternoon along the Yukon River, and surrounded by an entourage of Premier Sandy Silver and his cabinet ministers, Curtis said he will seek the nomination to run for the Liberals in the Whitehorse Centre riding. It’s currently held by former NDP leader Liz Hanson.

She announced Jan. 5 she is retiring from territorial politics.

Curtis revealed his candidacy with a speech approaching 13 minutes, during which he effusively spoke of his love for the downtown area of Whitehorse and its importance to the territory as a whole.

“Most of you know me as the mayor of this great city, and I’m serving out the final months of my third term,” he said.

“I’m incredibly attached to this community. I love being here right now because 55 years ago, I was born right across the river.

“I have watched our frontier town transform in a buzz of activity. I like to think I’ve had at least a small part over this last decade in this positive change and great work.

“I still wake up every morning with the same gratitude and sense of privilege of serving my home.”

The date for the 2021 election has yet to be set. If it’s called before the end of his term as mayor, Curtis said, he will step down.

Regardless of whether he wins the Whitehorse Centre seat, Curtis said he’s retiring as mayor in the fall.

He said he declared his intentions early to give any prospective mayoral candidates the chance to think about their decision.

The downtown area, Curtis said, “is the crown jewel of our city, and it would be my honour to represent the riding in the legislative assembly.

“I have the experience and knowledge to represent the people of downtown, and I have the passion and dedication to make sure that this neighbourhood has a strong voice in the government.”

Curtis said his time as mayor has shown him the importance of collaboration.

“A partnership and working together for the good of all Yukoners. I see how much can be accomplished through collaboration with all governments.

“It’s hard to find any infrastructure in this city without the federal and territorial governments helping the municipality,” the mayor added.

“Not just in our municipality, but right throughout the Yukon. For that, we are incredibly grateful.”

As he spoke, Curtis grew more energetic and impassioned – engaging in a little hyperbole as he did so.

“The secret is out. It’s clear that Whitehorse is the best place to live in the entire world.

“The heart of our community is the downtown core. We have to balance a vibrant business district with a safe place to raise our families. I’m so proud of my time as mayor, and I won’t be able to touch on everything the team at the city has accomplished during that time.”

He pointed at the city’s relationship with the local First Nations communities, the new city operations building off Range Road, “of our growth and inclusion,” and Safe At Home initiative as items he considered particularly noteworthy.

“I believe we are still in a very important moment in our community’a history. I hope to be that voice, I hope to bring my experience, my enthusiasm and my love to the momentum that’s already underway in this Liberal team’s work.”

Curtis has run for territorial office once before.

In 2011, before entering municipal politics, he ran for the Liberal party in the Riverdale South riding, where he lives. He didn’t win in that attempt, falling to the NDP’s Jan Stick by more than 100 votes. Stick is now a city councillor.

He acknowledged that history, and said it was an important lesson for him. Curtis said he was philosophical about the result now, as he didn’t think he was truly prepared for the job at that time.

Now, after his three terms as mayor, Curtis said he is confident he has the background he needs to fill the role properly.

He said he had been contemplating his political future for some time before making his decision.

Once he decided to run, Curtis said he approached the Liberals, rather than being headhunted by the party.

Curtis was a major proponent of the revitalization of the Marwell area – which is the main part of the Whitehorse Centre riding – which he said has brought great improvement to the community.

“We are very happy that Dan has put his name forward for this nomination,” Silver said in a media release.

“His dedication to the people of Whitehorse has served this city well for almost a decade, and we would be honoured to have him on our team.”

While he attended Curtis’ announcement, Silver did not speak on the nomination process.

Curtis said that while he currently lives in Riverdale, he intends to move back to the downtown core.

Before the pandemic, he and his wife, Mona, had placed a bid on a downtown property, but another interested party offered more.

As for the next election, Curtis said, “only one person knows that,” gesturing to Silver. “And he’s not talking.”

Municipal elections will occur next October.

Comments (49)

Up 0 Down 0

Sheepchaser on Jan 22, 2021 at 10:00 am


Informed, analytical and skeptical citizen is a legitimate role to play in any democracy. You need not do any more than that to fulfill your duty as an elector.

Assertions of shutting traps because you want social harmony while failing to make any real arguments based on knowledge, logic and insight is just a wet towel at best. Maybe the arrogance of the elected leaders you mentioned is relevant though. We would never expect them to lower themselves to the voice of the commons. No, they are above that, right?

See the problem? That kind of attitude is a gift to populist manipulators like the Yukon Party. Don’t fill their boots for them.
Good ideas are everywhere. Letting go of one’s anachronistic bias and institutionalized thinking is a great place to start looking.

Up 0 Down 0

My Opinion on Jan 21, 2021 at 3:30 pm

Dan Takes Credit. Good Lord

The only reason we have it good here is the money that comes from the rest of Canada. We should not be smug. Alberta is diving and they are paying for a lot of this. If they knew what was going on they would be shocked.

The Feds are basically Bankrupt now. These transfers will stop. Do you remember 1982 up here? I do.
That is one of the advantages and also the problem with being old. You have heard, and seen it all before.

Up 18 Down 5

JSmonk on Jan 20, 2021 at 11:14 am

Yes our city is good in comparison to others but that should not mean we sit on our butts and be happy with it. We should always strive for more and hold up our community to higher standards than others. I think the only way we can truly achieve this is by propping up the diversity in our city and holding everyone accountable. I do not think the Liberals are up to that task.

Up 29 Down 4

Rob on Jan 20, 2021 at 4:46 am

Feels like a good year coming...new mayor, new governing party, vaccine .. there's hope.

Up 20 Down 6

Musing on Jan 20, 2021 at 12:19 am

Will Curry go for the Whitehorse Center riding also? Before Dan leaves we should get a building schedule from him that would list uses, heated, for sale, condition as the 9 for 1 shrinkage has not happened as promised just prior to pandemic. I thought Dan did a great job as ribbon cutter for the City but his fiscal habits left me always wanting.

Up 23 Down 8

Johnson on Jan 19, 2021 at 9:32 pm

Hah, the Liberals are so vain, they've sent their partisans to defend them in the comment sections. Maybe do something of substance, rather than attempt to sway public opinion in the dark corners of the local newspaper.

Up 7 Down 16

EW on Jan 19, 2021 at 8:34 pm

Here’s the best part. Do all you smooth-brained commenters realize that literally ANY of you can run for office?
No one forms policy based in reacting to online comments, shut your traps and put yourself in the race. Let’s see how popular your opinions really are.

Up 27 Down 6

Sarah on Jan 19, 2021 at 8:24 pm

He should step down IMMEDIATELY. You’re the MAYOR Dan. You should not be slinging yourself with a party unless you step the hell down.

Up 3 Down 11

Moose on Jan 19, 2021 at 7:47 pm

I commented on the entitlement of people who live here and how good we all have it. Somehow this means I'm a "Liberal Staffer"?
I think you might be a little paranoid there bud ha ha.

Up 21 Down 4

Woodcutter on Jan 19, 2021 at 6:22 pm

Down town is the crown jewel? Har har har. Is it the drug dealers that sparkle or the panhandlers?

Up 15 Down 3

Resident on Jan 19, 2021 at 3:53 pm

Complete opposite actually. Fantasy land is not a compliment. Whitehorse is completely decoupled from the economy. This place is a giant house of cards that hinges on the federal government continuing to sign a blank cheque once a year, never really thinking too much about why they do it.

We're all just living sovereignty flags.
80% of the territorial budget comes from the feds. If the federal transfer grant ever gets cut, this place will empty out overnight.

Up 37 Down 9

Yukoner79 on Jan 19, 2021 at 1:07 pm

Here comes "Moose the Liberal Staffer" again, defending all things Liberal. Don't you think that all of Whitehorse sees through the "less than 1% property tax increase" as a vote-buying scheme?! Curtis only pulled that one because he planned on putting his name forward the next day. It's all crap. Stop defending these Liberals.

Up 23 Down 4

Sheepchaser on Jan 19, 2021 at 11:35 am

That’s exactly the point. Politicians are buying votes through ‘quality of life’ without doing much to create a productive tax-paying base of small businesses and large projects to pay for it. Do you think the present situation will last forever? Austerity measures will never reach us? The Feds can keep printing money forever?

At some point, the circus ends. Just the foundational lesson of history and all. When, not if, that occurs do you want to live in a place that will take one or two generations to recover or do we begin adapting, reinforcing and innovating our economy and streamlining government spending now?
Holding politicians accountable is as important to democracy as a cop on a highway catching speeders every once in a while. Giving them a big hug for existing isn’t really the point of a newspaper comments section. This process is meant to be a little rowdy. It scares me that so many people want harmony at any cost.

Up 60 Down 18

North_of_60 on Jan 18, 2021 at 2:44 pm

I agree with the increasing number of calls for the Mayor to resign immediately. It's been obvious over the past few months that he no longer has any interest in being Mayor.
Step down now and let someone better qualified take over the job of Mayor.

Up 61 Down 9

Resident on Jan 18, 2021 at 11:19 am

Finally, someone else who gets it! Whitehorse is a fantasy land compared to the rest of Canada. No real crime, low taxes, no PST, opportunities galore. An average kid anywhere else can make it to national events if they're from the Yukon. Fat chance an average kid from Flin Flon makes it on the Manitoba Team to anything. Funding beyond your wildest dreams for almost any sport. We're practically isolated from any major world event. COVID? Barely got here. Great Recession? GDP went up + a housing boom. Federal transfer? Goes up every year. Healthcare? Covers numerous treatments and drugs not covered under other provincial plans. The disconnect is startling if you actually look around.
I don't even like Dan but he's a symptom more than a problem. This town is the result of a citizenry that's forgotten what the real world looks like.

Up 69 Down 17

Al on Jan 18, 2021 at 9:22 am

Curtis needs to step down from his mayoral role immediately to avoid the appearance of any favouritism to the riding where he intends to run. It is now totally inappropriate for him to continue. He is in a potential conflict of interest. It would be unfair to other candidates from other parties for him to be in a position to "influence" even one vote.

Up 22 Down 43

redbird on Jan 17, 2021 at 9:47 pm

Best of luck Dan. It takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there.

As for all us commenters, any one of us could step forward you know. Go for it. People throw a few tomatoes, so what. Get up there and call up your party of choice and offer to run.

Up 23 Down 23

Yukoner61 on Jan 17, 2021 at 8:38 pm

@Sheepchaser good idea, but will never happen. I'd be surprised if any of the parties even have a platform yet. Also, good luck getting Currie Dixon and the Yukon Party to take a position on anything. He is promising to be everything to everyone yet the only things he has actually taken a position on in the year or so he has been leader, is supporting the Covid restrictions which the government put in place and denouncing Trump. He dances around every other issue.

I will at least give the current government credit for taking clear positions on all the major issues. The NDP is so small that I don't blame them for not taking positions but the Yukon Party is the official opposition so I think people deserve to know where they stand!

Up 40 Down 7

Sheepchaser on Jan 17, 2021 at 4:02 pm

So what do we do about this?

Maybe let’s force a regulation on these folks like they have been on us. Let’s demand that all candidates for elected office in Yukon must present a platform three months before an election. Something easy, but standardized. Just five bullet points, three sentences each detailing the problem they care about, their solution and the approximate cost to implement staged against the overall benefit to their constituents. Once elected, they must release a yearly report on their progress and a self assessment of their effectiveness in office. Bar communications staff or consultants from writing the report and require that only the candidate author these documents.

Available for download from their official website, these would at least allow a simplified way of holding them accountable from one election to another. One small measure in a sea of misinformation and manipulation. Even if some goals weren’t achieved, I think public confidence would actually increase for politicians who set realistic policy initiatives, detailed their efforts and honestly reviewed their own capacity to execute their mandate.

In short, a standardized report card about results. With half of Canadian adults struggling with literacy, we need to create an accessible, simple and critical tool to help folks make decisions about our shared future based on shared facts. Not an all-encompassing solution, but it’s a start. After a few years, I think it would become clear who was being effective and who was not.

Up 22 Down 7

Groucho d'North on Jan 17, 2021 at 1:39 pm

Individual MLAs rarely stand out unless they screw something up. For the most part it is party marching orders they follow leaving new ideas and creativity to the regular bureaucracy who may come up with new innovative ideas occasionally, but for the most part copy what other jurisdictions are doing.
Mr. Curtis has to find his own pace in territorial politics but in the main, it is all about representing the concerns of the people in the riding that elected him, and he does have some experience with that. Until the party platform is made public who knows how well he will perform in achieving it.

Up 12 Down 54

Dave on Jan 17, 2021 at 6:09 am

Good guy, wrong party.

Up 47 Down 11

Wilf Carter on Jan 17, 2021 at 1:30 am

How did he help Marwell area? Why was the major building project he referred to over by $17.5 million?

Up 57 Down 11

Pokemeinthearm on Jan 16, 2021 at 6:43 pm

We're talking about the Yukon Liberal Party here. They don't give a rat's ass about either opposition party, let alone giving them the time of day to answer to them.

I can't see Dan winning this riding. He's about to get a rude awakening when he begins knocking on doors and starts to hear first hand about the problems that his municipal government and the ruling party of the Territorial government he's aspiring to join have created for downtown residents.

Up 25 Down 48

Moose on Jan 16, 2021 at 6:27 pm

To people complaining about taxes or "not feeling safe" in Whitehorse, it is obvious you have never lived anywhere else outside of this coddled place. This is Disney land compared to living in the south. Property taxes are lower in Whitehorse than almost any city in BC or Alberta, PLUS you get a tax credit just for living in the north! It's crazy how entitled you must be to think a tax increase of less than 1% this year is a horrible thing that will make your life so hard.

As for crime, give me a break. Where are all the gang wars, sex trafficking, muggings, swarmings, chop shops etc? Oh right, they don't exist here to any real degree which is why it is such big news on the rare occasion it happens. I suspect you feel unsafe because of the alcoholics stumbling around like zombies, but normal people just feel sad rather than threatened by them. A strong breeze would blow them over.

So all that being said I think City Council and Mayor along with city staff have done a great job. We live in one of the best cities in the country and if you don't believe me, go live in another one down south for a few years.

Up 36 Down 5

Nathan Living on Jan 16, 2021 at 2:49 pm

I do like Dan but like many people have concerns about the city giving things away to preferential groups.
Has Dan consulted with the KSA, KZA, and the CMBC?

Up 38 Down 4

Al on Jan 16, 2021 at 1:46 pm

Yes, you might as well run. That will be one blessing for all of us to celebrate.
I trust the good folks in your choice of riding (which, if I am not mistaken you do not reside in) in making sure you finish well behind their winner.

Up 46 Down 4

Jake The Bosun on Jan 16, 2021 at 12:39 pm

Courtenau will declare next, that should scare you too!

Up 48 Down 9

Jake The Bosun on Jan 16, 2021 at 12:37 pm

Why do we keep getting the same quality of Government?
Because we keep electing the same kind of people.
Just because he wants the job doesn't mean he should get it. He has been spending money we don't have for years trying to keep up to YTG. Now that the economy is going to change at all levels and locations, competition for the public purse is going to be much more aggressive. The Yukon is going to lose any special status we might have claimed in past, and counted on in the future. Putting him there will only perpetuate a real unhealthy situation.

Up 16 Down 74

Denis on Jan 16, 2021 at 10:34 am

I have known Dan since ReMax days. He and Mona are deserving. Best of luck Dan.

Up 81 Down 13

jack on Jan 16, 2021 at 12:49 am

It just goes to show how he plans to hop from one role in the public sector to another without ever delivering any value, while he personally enriches himself along the way.

Bad for Whitehorse, worse for the Yukon.

Up 38 Down 4

I said pardon on Jan 15, 2021 at 9:46 pm

Where is the transcript of this 13 minute speech?

Up 67 Down 11

Sheepchaser on Jan 15, 2021 at 8:56 pm

Lots of vague ‘quality of life’ promises, no plans or innovations of substance mentioned, moving a few blocks just to qualify for higher office, a totally irrelevant ‘born here’ distraction to stir sentiment and a big wet kiss on the backside of where the money and power comes from. With a panorama of identity politics to round out the overall impression that the dependency state is the crown jewel in the liberal crown.

Another old, tired, well-fed status quo candidate to shovel ineffective money at problems they don’t understand. No one rocks the boat too hard and everyone stays friends. Next thing, it’ll be an about-face and he’ll be tapped to replace Larry as MP. Assuming Silver hasn’t already called dibs.

What a time to keep making the same mistakes.

Up 53 Down 14

Edie rue on Jan 15, 2021 at 7:53 pm

I like Dan in some ways, watched a few speeches and he does well. He does remind me of the token politician you’d see on a cheesy movie, or the in the book “Little Blue Truck”. You know the one, the nicely dressed, smooth talking white male who makes you feel like you’re his best friend, yet he’d probably step over your corpse on his way to a photo shoot. It’s these characters whom some of us are tired of. I’m a hard liberal, and I’d be pissed if the party added Dan to their roster. Honestly.

Up 13 Down 76

Lynx on Jan 15, 2021 at 6:48 pm

Great news. He was a good mayor and I think will make a good territorial politician. I would give him my vote in a heartbeat if I lived downtown. Best of luck Dan!

Up 14 Down 47

DMZ on Jan 15, 2021 at 5:53 pm

Re the pension, municipal politicians don't get one, I don't think, aside from whatever they pay into like everyone else. And you know what, Dan deserves one. I'm not his biggest fan, but he's been growing on me. He seems more thoughtful, in some ways. I still don't agree with him about a lot of things. But in an atmosphere where he has to answer to an opposition, that could really be good for him.

Up 71 Down 10

Crunch on Jan 15, 2021 at 5:10 pm

Sorry Danny but a lot of folks will have you on about the positive change in Whitehorse. Congestion, crime and pricing have been the biggest changes you have made. You have taken this town that you apparently love and turned it into the Crimea (get it) which you ignore. I live in city centre and you would be the last person I would even consider voting for.

Up 72 Down 8

Salt on Jan 15, 2021 at 4:43 pm

This is the move of a man who sees the writing on the wall. His policies have helped make Whitehorse one of the most unsustainable cities in the world. It depends on an ever increasing amount of fed tax dollars. He’s had his turn driving the bus up the mountain and wants to get out of the drivers seat before we go over the cliff. Well played Dan.

Up 58 Down 11

Yoduh on Jan 15, 2021 at 4:03 pm

“Politicians, and diapers should be changed often, and for the same reason.”
Curtis will fit right in with this honey wagon crowd.

Up 40 Down 15

Billy on Jan 15, 2021 at 3:52 pm

Now is your chance. Run for mayor. It’s pretty clear to us that you know EVERYTHING!

Up 33 Down 2

Anie on Jan 15, 2021 at 3:44 pm

Juniper Mayor and council don't have pensions. City employees don't either. City employees contribute to RRSP's and the City contributes a prescribed amount. Very few employers have a pension plan these days

Up 38 Down 5

Martin on Jan 15, 2021 at 3:42 pm

He's looking for an opportunity now to replicate his "performance" across the Yukon's politics

Up 49 Down 7

Anie on Jan 15, 2021 at 3:41 pm

The last word that comes to mind when thinking about downtown Whitehorse is 'safe".

Up 33 Down 84

JC on Jan 15, 2021 at 3:30 pm

Well, nice to know he was born in Whitehorse. Like to see more Yukon born politicians. And, yeah, I guess he hasn't done a bad job as Mayor. All the best Dan.

Up 36 Down 21

Josey Wales on Jan 15, 2021 at 3:02 pm

Good ...We should strive to raise the bar for the next chairwarmer that will fill that power vacuum... in a completely unaccountable civic bloat rife with "others monies".
Noble Dan may feed very well AND keep current with his network of cronies.
gotta give him some credit though, he looks like he shed a chin.

Mind you those SS YLP snacks are most certainly high brow to our "mere" civic ones we provided he and his staff for years.
Time will tell if he harvests chins again, hope not.
As obesity kills 500,000 folks with Canadian medical cards each year.

Up 93 Down 14

joe on Jan 15, 2021 at 2:34 pm

Obviously...hopefully someone runs against him and he doesn't win by default like the mayor job.

Up 54 Down 9

Who is surprised? on Jan 15, 2021 at 2:27 pm

Not surprised at all.

Up 70 Down 15

charles Meyer on Jan 15, 2021 at 2:24 pm

Our Gov at work...
I am not surprised, they can not get any important Business done. They are running from one Photo op to the next one.

Up 57 Down 22

Juniper Jackson on Jan 15, 2021 at 2:09 pm

It's Dan.. and it's a Liberal. How much is his Mayor's pension? Does he get one? I'm sure councils would not have passed up an opportunity to give themselves a permanent income. We'll see who runs in that riding.. he got real lucky with the last mayoral race..

Up 76 Down 16

TMYK on Jan 15, 2021 at 1:55 pm

Ooooof. Someone gave Dan some very bad advice.

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