Yukon Liberal Larry Bagnell vows to uphold loan forgiveness promise from 2019 budget after being elected

In a crowded restaurant located in downtown Whitehorse, people sit watching numbers from the polls come in.

Most people in the restaurant are wearing red to show their support for Liberal MP Larry Bagnell.

As the final poll is counted, the crowd starts to chant “Larry, Larry.”

It was a close back and forth race between the Liberals and the Conservatives.

Running for the Conservative Party was candidate Jonas Smith.

When the final numbers came in, Bagnell had 7,035 votes and Smith with 6,871 votes – a difference of 164 votes.

After the numbers were announced Bagnell entered the restaurant to address the crowd.

“Politics may be the only field where this happens,” Bagnell said. “You can do your best, do lots of successes and still lose your job. Because of you and Yukoners that didn’t happen. I really love Yukoners and you for making sure this didn’t happen.”

NDP Candidate Justin Lemphers also came by the restaurant to congratulate Bagnell on the win.

Bagnell has represented the Yukon from 2000 to 2011 and was re-elected in 2015.

Earlier in the day, while Bagnell was casting his vote, he told APTN about one of his priorities if he was re-elected.

“One of the exciting things is we’re going to repay the loans that all of the First Nations here that signed land claims’ Bagnell said. “Eleven of them had to hire lawyers and negotiators and spend millions of dollars and then had to pay for that out of their land claims.

“What we’re going to do is pay them all back over the next five years.”

In its 2019 budget, the federal Liberals announced that $1.4 billion would go to forgiving loans to First Nations who had taken on debt to pay lawyers to negotiate comprehensive claims and treaties.

The budget called for the program to run over four years.

Although Bagnell won the seat again, he acknowledges how close of a race it was and that there is much work to still do.

“We made some mistakes. We didn’t live up to the things that everyone wanted and I can commit to you that I’m going to try as hard as I can that we don’t make those mistakes again,” he said.