December 5, 2019
Brad Cathers Leadership Announcement Speech
Thank you for coming here today. I am pleased to announce that I am running for the Leadership of the Yukon Party.
The Yukon is my home and yours.
I love the land we live in, and I am dedicated to doing my best to ensure that we have a bright future for the Yukon, and for all Yukoners.
I respectfully acknowledge that we are on the traditional territory of the Kwanlin Dun First Nation, and the Ta’an Kwachan Council.
Wherever we were born, for all of us who call the Yukon home, we share a love of this land, its natural beauty, our rivers and lakes, and the people who live here.
The Yukon needs a leader who listens to Yukoners, works hard for them, and delivers results.
My vision for the Yukon reflects the priorities I have heard from people across the territory.
What I have heard is that Yukoners value a strong diversified economy, the peace and beauty of the wilderness, quality health care, a good education system, an effective social safety net, and infrastructure that meets the needs of our homes and communities – and I share those values.
My track record of success is due to listening to Yukoners, and working with public servants to turn goals in to actions.
I listen to people, and I deliver results.
A Yukon Party government under my leadership will be a caring, fiscally conservative government that respects the rights and freedoms of every Yukon citizen.
One of the advantages I bring to the table is experience. Like it does in almost any job, in government, experience matters.
I have been at the table when great decisions were made that resulted in a positive difference in the lives of people across the Yukon — and when mistakes were made. And I have learned a lot from the good decisions – and the ones that didn’t work out.
As many people know, my work as an MLA and as a Minister stands up well next to anyone’s. I have a strong track record of delivering results.
The work I have done touches the lives of people across the Yukon every day in a positive way. And there is a long list of people I’ve helped – in every community and every part of the Yukon – as both a Minister and an MLA.
Other people have played a major role in making that all happen, so I want to make it clear I’m not claiming all the credit – but I am proud of the work we have done together.
My riding of Lake Laberge includes farms, rural residential homes, and Whitehorse neighbourhoods. I have been re-elected three times, gaining the support of more voters in every election in the last ten years.
Even in 2016, when the tide was against the Yukon Party, I received the fourth highest number of votes of any candidate in the Yukon – and the most for any Yukon Party candidate.
I believe this is because I have listened to people, I have worked hard, and tried to do the right thing. I will continue to work hard on behalf of my constituents and all Yukoners.
If I am elected as Leader of the Yukon Party, I will bring that same dedication to working on behalf of my constituents across the Yukon – and never take their support for granted.
During the months ahead till Yukon Party members decide who will lead their party into the next election, I will be talking about my vision for the Yukon.
I will also be listening to Yukoners, and asking for their ideas to help us grow that vision and develop an election platform that reflects the needs and priorities of the people of the Yukon.
If I am elected as Leader of the Yukon Party, we will build our election platform with grassroots input from party members and other people across the Yukon, and focus on winning public confidence to form a Yukon Party majority government.
A government under my leadership will work with First Nations, municipalities, local advisory councils, and the federal government to make the Yukon’s future a good one.
We will also work together with the Yukon’s private sector – including agriculture, mining, tourism, forestry, renewable energy, log home construction, I.T., aviation, arts & crafts, outfitters, retailers, contractors, transportation services, entrepreneurs….. and the list goes on.
We will take action to reduce the regulatory burden and paperwork for Yukon companies, especially small businesses.
The Yukon has a proud history of independent and resourceful people, beginning with First Nations people who made their living harvesting from the land and the water. As others came to the territory, there were prospectors, placer miners, farmers, hunters, carpenters, pilots, merchants, Mounties, and many more.
Many people have come to the Yukon looking for adventure, wilderness, gold, or a summer job, and found themselves staying because they love the land and the lifestyle.
All of these people have become part of the past and present of this beautiful territory. And all are important as we move forward into its future.
A Yukon Party government under my leadership will be a caring, fiscally responsible government that respects the rights and freedoms of every Yukon citizen.
As people who’ve worked with me know, I respect the work done by Yukon government employees, and I have always valued their advice when I was a Minister. And of course, most of the things we have accomplished are due in part to work by government employees.
People who work in our private sector and our public sector are a valuable part of our communities, our economy, and our territory.
The current government is known for being indecisive, and overly focused on photo ops and platitudes instead of on delivering results.
They have also shown a lack of confidence in their own abilities, in the advice of public servants, and what they hear from ordinary Yukoners by their pattern of repeatedly appointing expensive panels to provide advice on how to govern.
The Liberals have been quick to grow government, and quick to lurch in the opposite direction by making cuts. They have shown a lack of capacity to govern.
If we are successful in forming government under my leadership, Yukoners can have confidence in a calm, steady hand steering the ship.
Many people know me from my time as an MLA, but I’d like to talk a little about who I am and where I come from.
My family came to the Yukon because of the lure of the Yukon River. They came north to paddle the Yukon River, and my first trip down the river was before I turned 1.
We celebrated my first birthday in the campground across the river from Dawson – though as you can imagine, I don’t remember the occasion.
My family moved to the Yukon when I was 2 years old, and I have lived here almost all the years since then. When I was 6 years old, my family moved to the east side of Lake Laberge. I grew up with no road access, and had to cross Lake Laberge on the water or on the ice to get to town.
We lived off grid for most of my life, heating our log cabin with wood – and we only had running water if we ran up the hill from the creek with the water buckets. I grew up with a wilderness lifestyle including hauling water by hand, cutting firewood, hiking, canoeing, boating, and dog mushing.
I love spending time where the peace and beauty of the wilderness surrounds me, and being out on the land and water doing things like riding my horse, boating, snowmobiling, hiking, and spending time with my family.
The Yukon’s wilderness beauty….. a stronger, diversified economy that provides opportunities for all Yukoners…. continuing to grow our agriculture sector and increasing the production of local food…. protecting personal freedoms and property rights….and increasing the Yukon’s ability to be self-sufficient, and meet our own needs are all very important to me.
Another priority that is very important to me is health care for Yukoners.
Reducing wait times for health care, investing in technology, and ensuring that our hospitals have the resources they need are priorities for me.
The Hospital Corporation is not being properly funded – and that is causing real impacts in the lives of Yukon citizens. I’ve heard it from health professionals – and I hear about the impacts from patients who contact me.
Eight months into the current fiscal year, and the hospital is waiting for some of their core funding – millions of dollars – to be approved.
And last year, the government only acted to reduce cataract surgery wait times after my Caucus colleagues and I pressed them on the issue relentlessly.
Ladies and gentlemen, I want to emphasize that a Yukon Party government under my leadership will make health care a top priority. We will invest in our health care system, work with our health professionals, and support our hospitals and health centres.
We will also make Emergency Medical Services a priority, including working with rural EMS volunteers to support them, and strengthening EMS in our communities.
We will work with all volunteer first responders – including our volunteer fire departments, EMS, and Search and Rescue – to support them, and increase the strength of community-based response.
We will also support our employees who work for EMS, the Fire Marshal’s Office, and Wildland Fire Management.
And working with the RCMP will also be a high priority – including targeting the illegal drug trade to make our communities safer, and breathing new life into the RCMP Auxiliary Constable program.
Before concluding my speech, I want to speak briefly about the first candidate who declared his interest in running for the leadership. Currie is a friend of mine, and we have been up front with each other about our interest in running for the Leadership of the Yukon Party.
We have worked together well in government, and I hope to have the opportunity to do that again.
Though I want the job, I am also pleased to see him running – because a leadership race is good for the Yukon Party’s health.
It will bring in people from across the Yukon to be part of the Yukon Party, to contribute to our vision and build our election platform for the next election. Together, I believe that we can build a team that will gain the confidence of Yukoners, and win the next election.
If Currie is elected, I am committed to continuing to serve as MLA for Lake Laberge, and running in the next election.
And if I win the Leadership election, I hope he will run under my leadership in the next territorial election.
If there are other people considering running, I’d encourage them to jump in.
Let’s run a clean, positive race, grow the membership of the Yukon Party, and build a strong, diverse team for the next election.
To my fellow Yukoners – the choice is yours to make. This is your opportunity to choose who you want to lead the Yukon Party.
Choose a Leader who Listens to You, and Delivers Results.