Lawyer Rylund Johnson intends to run for MLA of Yellowknife North this fall.
Johnson plans to run on five campaign themes: diversifying the economy, reducing harm to vulnerable communities, creating equality of opportunity, promoting Northern unity and spurring investment, a press release announced Sunday.
Pledging to provide voters an alternative, he said “Increasing political apathy is in large part due to leadership not providing the change people are looking for.”
He told Yellowknifer he hopes to encourage young voters to participate in the election, and view environmental and economic policy on a generational scale.
“Is this not just good for me? Is it good for my children or my children’s children?” he said about the strategy.
He suggested exploring universal daycare and also came out in opposition to fracking and Arctic off-shore drilling. Of the latter, he said “it’s not even an environmental policy at this point. It’s an economic one. It does not make sense to put subsidies in investment into an industry that has to die and will become economically irrelevant as climate change becomes a reality.”
“I’d like to re-frame the narrative: a lot of the environmental movement has been framed as anti-economic, but at this point the studies are showing the costs of climate change, if we don’t do anything, are going to be astronomical.”
He also argued for a polytechnic university and making the territory a business destination while drawing more tourists. Looking to a Northern living allowance, he said the territory should also do more to attract immigrants, while specifically targeting remote workers.
Johnson has previously worked at the Crown Prosecutor’s Office, Dragon Toner Law Office and as a senior advisor on legislative and legal affairs for the GNWT. He is founder of non-profit Makerspace YK, and also operates a sailboat tour business. Additionally, he is chair of the Canadian Bar Association Aboriginal Law Section, NWT and vice chair of the Public Lawyers Section.
In the release, he promised to improve government operations while expanding NWT’s economy.
“Having worked firsthand with our legislature, I know the challenges we face as a territory in order to grow and diversify our economy in an uncertain future. I see a path forward through smart policy centred on making government work better for all of us,” Johnson stated in the press release.
In the election, Johnson will face incumbent Yellowknife North MLA Cory Vanthuyne, who will be running for his second term.