Former Yukon NDP Leader Liz Hanson announces she won't run again

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Liz Hanson, who led the Yukon NDP through two territorial election campaigns, announced Tuesday she won't seek another term as the MLA for Whitehorse Centre.

"I think politicians need to know when it's time to leave and when it's time for new directions," Hanson said.

"I'm not stepping away from the world. I'm just stepping away from this particular aspect of my life in public service."

Hanson entered politics after retiring from the federal civil service. She took over the NDP in 2009, replacing Todd Hardy. She became the MLA for Whitehorse Centre, easily winning a byelection in 2010 after Hardy died of leukemia.

Hanson led the party to Official Opposition status in the 2011 election, but the party was reduced to two MLAs — Hanson and current Leader Kate White — in 2016.

"[Hanson] has since served her Whitehorse Centre riding with compassion, care and intelligence," White said. "She leaves us with large shoes to fill and a legacy worthy of what comes next."

Citing a need for the party to adopt "new energy," Hanson announced her intent to step down as NDP Leader in November 2018.

'I will stand by my principles'

Hanson remained engaged in the Legislative Assembly after stepping down as NDP leader, clashing frequently with cabinet ministers during debate. She even drew a rebuke from Speaker Nils Clarke for tabling documents from an assembly committee that were supposed to remain secret.

"I will stand by my principles that I am elected to represent citizens and I'm elected in a ... democracy and if somebody wants to shut me down then I want them to say publicly how and why they intend to do that. And good luck," she said at the time.

Vic Istchenko/CBC
Vic Istchenko/CBC

Hanson said the highlights of her time in office were NDP efforts to force an all-party committee to study fracking and an inquiry into the safety of oil-fired appliances, as well as opposition to the former Yukon Party government's proposed land-use plan for the Peel Watershed.

"Those are not just because of me, it's because of the team and the efforts of members of this party," Hanson said.

Hanson was speaking on Tuesday during a Zoom call held by the NDP to announce three people are seeking the party's nomination in Whitehorse Centre.

They are Cystic Fibrosis advocate Amy Labonte, Emily Tredger, the executive director of Teegatha'Oh Zheh, which works with people who have developmental disabilities, and former business owner Kaori Torigai, who has also worked in the public and non-profit sectors.

White said the Whitehorse Centre riding association has not set a date for a nomination vote yet.

The next territorial election must be called by Nov. 18.