Liberal minister Ranj Pillai launches leadership bid

Yukon Government Minister Ranj Pillai has announced that he is running for Premier.

That makes him the sitting prime minister to do so, but he may not be the last.

Pillai, whose primary portfolio is economic development, launched his bid to be the next Liberal Party leader Friday morning in downtown Whitehorse among about 60 supporters, including Larry Bagnell, a former MP for the territory.

Pillai said he has spent years honing his skills and building bridges in the land, including with business owners and First Nations leaders.

« It’s very fitting for this role, » he said. “I have been contacted by a considerable number of Yukoners since September.

Premier Sandy Silver announced in September that he would step down and make way for a new leader. He will continue as Klondike MPP until the next general election.

Following Pillai’s announcement, he seemed to suggest that other Liberal MPs would also run for premier.

« We’ll probably see more of my colleagues racing – that’s a good thing, » he said. « The more people involved in this process, the better. »

« Breathless »

Thursday marked the end of the fall sitting of the legislature. With that, leaders of all political stripes had a say in how things went, and there seems to have been some snipering, particularly from Yukon Party leader Currie Dixon, who said ministers are running out of steam.

Pillai fired back this Friday among reporters, saying that while he can’t say too much right now, he has a lot of ideas, adding that the next two months will be an absolutely critical period, politically speaking.

« Just wait for the next 60 days and we’ll see. I’m certainly not out of ideas, and I don’t think our party is out of ideas. »

One idea from Pillai is to « find common ground with the two opposition parties ».

Pillai might need it, especially with the NDP.

On January 31, a crucial agreement between the ruling Liberals and the third party will expire. Without it, the government will struggle to advance its agenda. It is because following the last election, the government failed to obtain a majority government. The deal reinforces NDP support for various Liberal aspirations, and vice versa.

Pillai told reporters he has long considered NDP Leader Kate White a friend outside of the Legislative Assembly.

« In the congregation, I have enormous respect for Kate, » he said.

« It takes two to dance to this, and I’m coming to the table to make sure the relationship with the NDP can continue to be positive. »

A leadership contest has yet to be officially called, but is expected to be called any day now.

Many mechanisms for such a race seem to be in place.

On Wednesday, the party caucus released a number of rules, including who is eligible to run, how they can campaign and how the vote will take place. A dinner is scheduled for Friday evening, where Liberal MPs, supporters and hopefuls will gather to, it seems, discuss the direction of the party. It seems to be geared towards the well-heeled – plates are $200.

First elected to the Yukon Legislative Assembly in 2016, Pillai has held various positions in the Yukon over the years, including serving as a councilor for the City of Whitehorse and executive director of the Champagne Aishihik First Nations.


Back to top button