By Dan Davidson
If you didn’t know that Larry Bagnell was fond of Dawson City, the name he and his wife, Melissa, gave to their son might give it away. His name is Dawson.
“I’ve always been very committed to Dawson,” the candidate said in an interview last week. “I think I’ve been there six times during this campaign, for various events and to support various events in Dawson.”
He’s an annual fixture serving the musicians at the Dawson City Music Festival and often turns up for other special events such as the Moosehide Gathering.
“Rural Yukon is very important. They feel left out. They feel they don’t get the same attention Whitehorse does, so in all my campaigns I’ve got out to almost every rural community.”
Part of his attention has been his awareness of tourism.
“Tourism is the biggest private sector employer in the Yukon, by number of employees, and Dawson is certainly the heart and soul of much the tourism in the Yukon.”
Not that he has ignored the mining sector in his past efforts.
“One of my biggest battles in Parliament, along with Senator Ione Christiansen, was to save Placer Mining when the federal Minister of Fisheries almost shut it down with new regulations.”
In the four years since he lost the 2011 election to Conservative Ryan Leef, Bagnell has been busy in other ways.
“I was chairing an economic development commission for the town of Watson Lake. I was the honorary chair of the United Way for the Yukon and I was the first ever Yukon board member to the national literacy organization, Frontier College.”
For Bagnell this last group is a natural outgrowth of the time he spent as the Chair of Yukon Learn.
He’s tired of hearing about his single vote to keep the defunct gun registry.
“It’s pretty much desperation of the Conservatives to keep running those ads when they know that the Liberals are not bringing back the gun registry.”
While he prefers to talk about his own party’s platform rather than deconstructing those of his opponents, Bagnell was clear on the Liberal Party line that a minority Conservative government, should such a thing come to pass on October 19, will not be able to command the confidence of the House of Commons.
Both opposition parties have indicated that Stephen Harper’s days at 24 Sussex Drive would be very limited in such a case.
“If Stephen Harper happens to win a minority of seats, basically the NDP and the Liberals will bring the government down on a non-confidence motion,” he said.
“Then, normally what would happen is that the Governor General, knowing that we just had an election and people wouldn’t want another one, would go to the party with the most seats of the other two and say ‘Can you hold the confidence of the House?’ And of course they would be able to, because neither one of them would want Stephen Harper to have the confidence of the House.”
This would not be a formal coalition, but it would have the same effect.
Should it be the Liberals who achieve power, one way or the other, Bagnell says the Prime Minster’s Office will be run much differently than it is now, with more free votes for MPs and fewer mandatory (whipped) votes. These would still be in force for budgetary bills and for items that have been promised in the party’s platform, but with no massive omnibus bills, such as those that have been the stock in trade of the Conservative Party, that would not, in his opinion, be a major issue.
Since Justin Trudeau has removed all the former Liberal Senators from the party ranks, the degree of control over Senate actions, which was highlighted during the Mike Duffy trial, will not be a possibility for a Liberal government.
“Also, our electoral reform package will strengthen the powers of Parliamentary officers such as the Budget Office, the Auditor General, the Chief Electoral Officer, and make them more independent.”
Bagnell also said that repealing such contentious legislation as the Fair Elections Art and parts of other bills that the opposition parties have complained about would happen fairly quickly.
“On the doorstep I hear from people that the abuse of omnibus bills is a very major concern to Yukoners.”