Yukon News

Elias quits the Liberals

Roxanne Stasyszyn Friday August 17, 2012

Yukon News


Darius Elias has stepped down as leader of the territory’s Liberals and will sit as an Independent in the upcoming fall sitting of the Yukon Legislative Assembly.

The member for Vuntut Gwitchin has been with the party for the six years he has been in office. He said the decision did not come easy.

“It took me a long time to make this decision - a month actually - and there’s lots of pieces that are involved,” he said. “For the most part, it’s for my constituents.”

It was advice from “political leaders in Old Crow” that brought Elias to “re-evaluate” his partisan alliance. He said he wasn’t “at the top of his game” during the legislature’s spring sitting.

Essentially, the responsibilities of leading and rebuilding a political party were not what the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation citizen signed up for.

“Over the last few months, I found myself spending the majority of my time dealing with rebuilding a political party, and that was never in the cards,” he said. “There’s other personal pieces to this puzzle but it was evident to me that in the best interest of everyone in mind, it’s time for me to stand down from the Liberal party and look at the goals and aspirations and issues through a nonpartisan lens.

“I never got into this to seek the leadership of any political party or to be a part of a rebuilding exercise that took all my time and energy. I got into this to make a difference.”

Elias was one of only two Liberal members elected in last fall’s territorial election.

Sandy Silver, the party’s new member for the Klondike, will take on the role of leader. He thanked Elias for his important contributions, adding that the “door is open for him to return at a later date,” in a statement released this morning.

Silver was on a flight and unavailable for further comment before press time.

Elias confirmed that the personal parts of his decision do not reflect on the party or its other members.

“This is not about irreconcilable differences, this is not about airing dirty laundry, this is not about a Jerry Springer-type explanation. This is basically a political metamorphosis that happens all the time in our territory,” he said. “For the most part, my decision is motivated by the challenges that the people of my riding will face in the coming years.”

Elias listed housing, education, a recreation centre and winter road access as the “big-ticket” items being sought by his constituents.

He also noted that the political culture in Old Crow has never really been partisan and the people tend to elect a person, not a party.

For a long spell from 1978 until 2000, pundits noted the territory’s northernmost riding, with the best voter turnout, always elected an MLA whose party became the government. That was until Elias’ predecessor, New Democrat Lorraine Peter (then Netro) was elected for the first time in 2000.

The most remote riding, with the fewest voters, hasn’t had an MLA from the governing party since.

Now, as an Independent, Elias will be able to focus his work with the goals of his home community, instead of the goals of a political party, he said.

He admits the extra responsibilities as the Liberals’ interim leader were compounded by personal stresses, but he said bowing out of politics altogether was not an option.

“I took an oath after the last election to represent my constituents to the best of my ability and that’s what I intend to do over the coming years,” he said. “We need all the leaders in Old Crow to be pushing in the same direction, and I don’t shy away from any task. I never have and I never will. But sometimes you have to navigate through difficult waters. Hopefully, my decision today will bode well not only for my constituents, for my family, or for myself, but for Yukoners in general.”

Elias wouldn’t speculate on how his newfound independence will influence the legislature, or whether he would vote differently on controversial subjects like the Peel River Watershed Land Use Plan, except to say he will do what his constituents advise.

He has nothing but good wishes and gratitude for the Liberal party, he added, and says he is confident it will fare well under Silver.

Contact Roxanne Stasyszyn at

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old crow citizen wrote:
11:17pm Thursday August 23, 2012

Bob n Bob I have a few questions.
When was the last time you’ve been up here? Have you been in the community center in the past 3 years? The community center doesn’t need “some” it needs major maintenance. My guess is that it wouldn’t be feasible to just repair it. How else would you suggest we get electricity? diesel is the only way to accomplish this right now. As for your remarks about the growing a garden part; yes we do have a small community garden, and some people have there own garden in their yards. Yes people still use clothes lines both in and out of their houses. You do realize that the VGFN owns 49% of the only airline company that flies into Old Crow, and as part owner are entitled to some benefits, the benefits we receive aren’t as much as you would think.

the truth wrote:
11:15pm Thursday August 23, 2012

further more, Bob N Bob, I also think you owe an apology to the hunters of Old Crow who have given so much to single mothers, elders, and people on a fixed income who otherwise would not have been able to feed their families without the meat they were given.you would know all of this if you did your research, rather then using this community to try and make yourself sound so righteous for knowing what is best for a people that you don’t know or understand.

the truth wrote:
11:10pm Thursday August 23, 2012

First of all Bob N Bob, Old Crow never once asked the feds for a new community center. if its the multiplex your talking about, well that intitiative is happening through a series of partnerships and access of funding that would have been used for another similar project anyway. second of all, regarding Old Crow’s use of deisel, i’m sure you have all the answers for that issue don’t you. let me guess, wind power, so i guess you can explain to me how Old Crow is supposed to run the wiring from the mountain 5 miles away to the transporter at a cost of 1 million per kilometer with out being MORE of a “federal money pit”. as for Old Crow’s “misguided sense of entitlement” as you so eloquently put it. Old Crow has always been the one of the best first nations to deal with on a political and economic level. once again through a series of partnerships and negotiations they were able protect the most pertinent ecology’s in their traditional territory, so you tell me Bob N Bob, how is their “entitlement” to the management of their lands and delivering of programs to their citizens a misguided one? the thing is, Old Crow is in the process of transferring to cleaner more efficient energy and have proposals to do so and recommendations as well from a myriad of companies and institutions that want to work with the.

Funny wrote:
3:19pm Thursday August 23, 2012

I hope that they never let Darius back in and in fact noone should have him. Like others said, he just goes with the majority and pouts like a child. He is a waste of time, money, and resources.

I wasn’t going to say anything, but the fact that he stated:

“It took me a long time to make this decision - a month actually - and there’s lots of pieces that are involved”

Wow an ENTIRE month? Such a short time, but I guess if one is a flip-flop ready to turn at the sign of an upheavel waiting a month knowing the answer would seem awhile.

Junior wrote:
2:27pm Wednesday August 22, 2012

Darius looks at a government check the way most men look at a beautiful woman.

Yukoner wrote:
11:39pm Tuesday August 21, 2012

Yukon Proud = Liz Hanson? Sure sounds like it….

Bob n Bob wrote:
11:00pm Tuesday August 21, 2012

Old Crow is a Federal Government money pit. They have a memebership of 900 and about 300 live at Old Crow. They waste money importing diesel. They waste money on housing and the whole community is overshadowed by a misguided sense of entitlement. They have a beautiful Community Centre needing some maintenance and care and the population just wants to get the Federal Government to give them a new one. How about an audit of how much Yukon airline money has gone back to Old Crow Citizens, how about an audit on the cost/benefit of Porcupine construction. Look at the community budget and divide by the number of people at Old Crow. Darius has a tough job and he has done little of value for Old Crow or his constituents. The best he can do is vote with the present government and hope they can make some good choices. Do the citizens at Old Crow use a clothes line or grow a garden? Nope…they wait for government handouts, they run their clothes dryer on imported diesel so they can grab their skidoo and high powered rifle and go kill some Caribou and enjoy their “traditional” lifestle. Self government means no help from the feds. Wake up Darius! Go Check out Chief Louis at Oosooyoos. He should be your mentor!

Stan Rogers wrote:
12:15am Tuesday August 21, 2012

Who really cares. What has he done other than pretend he is outraged while sitting in the house and living the good life. Really- he complained about the food mail- think that covers everything he has actually done.

hardcore wrote:
8:22pm Friday August 17, 2012

it’s clear he was forced out of the party, not that the party is going anywhere anyway. maybe thta’s not true entirely, they appear to still be going backwards.

Yukon Proud wrote:
7:49pm Friday August 17, 2012

Way to go Darius!  It is rare indeed for a politician to follow his heart and his truth, and work for the best of his community instead of the best for his career.  Perhaps you will join the NDP…?  They are the party fighting for housing and education, a strong LONG TERM economic plan rather than a ‘sell it all and screw the future’ plan like the Yukon Party.  I’m glad your community supports you and admires your decision.  Good Luck!

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