Yukon MP Larry Bagnell not running again

Larry Bagnell, who has spent much of the last 20 years as Yukon’s MP, says he won’t run in the next federal election.

Bagnell made the announcement on Thursday afternoon in Whitehorse, flanked by his two young children. He said he’s decided to spend more time with them. 

“When I was first elected, I didn’t have any kids,” said Bagnell.

“So many times, as you know, in this job I just couldn’t give them the attention they deserve.”

Bagnell had already been nominated by the local Liberal association to run in the next federal election. It would have been his eighth federal campaign.

Bagnell was first elected as MP in the 2000 election, unseating the NDP’s Louise Hardy by a slim margin of 70 votes. 

He was re-elected in 2004, 2006 and 2008 by healthier margins. Even as his party’s fortunes fell — with Paul Martin’s Liberal government falling to Stephen Harper’s Conservatives in 2006 — Bagnell held a solid base of support in Yukon.

By 2011, however, the political winds in Yukon had shifted and Bagnell was ousted by Conservative newcomer Ryan Leef. Bagnell kept a relatively low profile in the following years.

In 2015, he made a big comeback — running against Leef again and winning by his widest-ever margin. He got more votes that year than the Conservative, NDP and Green candidates combined.

Bagnell celebrates his landslide win — and return from the political wilderness — on election night in 2015. He won more votes that year than his 3 competitors combined. (Nancy Thomson/CBC)

He was re-elected once again in 2019, but it was a much closer race. Bagnell defeated Conservative Jonas Smith by fewer than 200 votes.

Smith has already said he’ll be running in the next federal election.

Bagnell did not reveal when his party might call that election, but an email to media ahead of his Thursday news conference referred to “the upcoming federal election.”

Bagnell said he didn’t know who might replace him as Yukon’s standard-bearer for the federal Liberal party.

“The selection is up to the party … they’ll talk about that. Whoever it happens to be, I’ll certainly support them,” Bagnell said.

‘Fierce advocate’ for Yukon, premier says

In a written statement on Thursday, Yukon Premier Sandy Silver thanked Bagnell for his service and called him a “fierce advocate” for the territory.

“His dedication and work ethic are second to none,” Silver’s statement reads.

“Larry has worked tirelessly throughout his career to advance countless projects in the territory that have benefited all Yukoners, from immigration, transportation, and community infrastructure to housing, education and early learning and child care.”

Former Yukon premier Darrell Pasloski also paid tribute to Bagnell on Thursday, congratulating him on his decision to retire and focus on his family.

“Thank you for your years of service to Yukon and your many accomplishments,” Pasloski tweeted.

Asked on Thursday about his future plans, Bagnell said he hoped to find something “fun and challenging” to do, but he was in no rush. He said his busy political life meant that many other things fell by the wayside and became “a mess.”

“There’s just piles of paper everywhere. I haven’t done any repairs to my home for years … so everything’s a mess, I’ve got to get all that cleaned up and get organized so I have a clean slate to be able to do something else,” he said.

“But I’m certainly not anxious to do anything that’s 24-7.” 

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