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It was a hot and sultry Tuesday evening up North in the first week of July. A perfect evening for the Yukon Federal NDP nomination meeting.
The New Democrats from across the Territory had gathered to not only select the NDP candidate but also to hear Nathan Cullen, the MP from the riding just to the south, speak. And in fine form he was.
By sheer serendipity while the Dippers were getting roused up in the meeting hall next door the Governor General, all the Lieutenant Governors and all three of the territorial commissioners were gathered to do whatever they do when they meet.
As Cullen wittingly commented: if you're a member of the Monarchist League of Canada and you're in this hall and you’re slightly confused…you should be next door!
When the nomination votes had all been counted the NDP had chosen Melissa Atkinson to carry the orange banner in the Yukon.
A legal aid lawyer, she's First Nation in a territory where about a quarter of the population is Aboriginal.
The other main parties have their candidates already selected.
Larry Bagnell is running for the Liberals. He was the Yukon’s MP from 2000 to 2011, and lost narrowly to the current Conservative MP, Ryan Leef, in 2011.
Part of the reason he lost was due to vote splitting caused in part by a strong showing for the Green Party. This time the Greens are running Frank de Jong.
In 2011 the Conservatives got 5,422 votes, the Liberals 5,290 votes, the Greens 3,037 votes and the NDP 2,308 votes.
As one might suspect, there has been much heated discussion regarding the failings of the first past the post electoral system.
The issues that will no doubt be at the fore-front of most of the Yukon's electorate minds are: Missing and murdered Aboriginal women; Bill S-6 (changes to the Yukon environmental assessment process); Land Claims (not all Yukon First Nations have settled their land claims); and Unemployment (the unemployment rate just hit 8.3 per cent).
The election is a long way away but this pundit will go out on a limb and predict a two way race between the Liberals and the NDP.
Bagnell is extremely popular in the Yukon, with a penchant at being at every and any event and opening to get the Liberal message out and hear people’s concerns.
There's a saying that you can’t open a can of beans in the Territory without Larry showing up.
Atkinson is riding the orange wave, and will probably pick up a lot of the progressive vote that went Green last election.
As always, there is the danger of the centre and left of centre vote splitting evenly between the Libs and the Dips allowing the Conservative candidate to sneak in.
Among his followers I am sure Leef is popular, and the Conservatives have pumped money into the Yukon like drunken sailors.
The last territorial budget featured about a billion dollars in transfer payments and recoveries from Ottawa. And that's for a territorial population of just over 37,000 people.
Here's a big thank you to the southern taxpayers for keeping the money train flowing.
Let’s hope whoever wins doesn’t turn the fiscal taps off.
I'll post semi-regular campaign updates as the election cycle grinds on.
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