Image: Flickr/Graham Lees

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There has been confusion at the coffee shop. 

Someone was impatient in the latte lineup and walked off with someone else’s beverage before their own was ready.

This means they left on the counter a soy latte. 

And no — one else wanted it. 

Once the fuss was sorted out and people had received their caffeinated drink of choice the lonely soy latte was left on the counter. 

No — one claimed it, and it was still there when I left. 

That, gentle reader, is basically what happened in the Yukon during the 2011 election. 

If you are in a hurry and don’t think about the outcomes, not only will you not get the beverage of your choice you will mess it up for everyone else. 

In the Yukon’s case a large number of progressive types all flocked to vote for the Green candidate.

Thanks to the dark magic of vote splitting the Conservatives won the riding narrowly over the Liberal candidate. 

Now I am not saying the Conservatives are like a leftover soy latte that nobody really wants. 

They are worse — much worse, but I cannot think of a coffee shop analogy to compare them to. 

What I am saying is that thanks to people not thinking about what drink, or politician, they ordered they messed it up for everyone else as well as themselves. 

Look at the election results in 2011 for the Yukon.

The Conservatives got 5,422 votes, the Liberals 5,290 votes, the Greens 3,037 votes and the NDP 2,308 votes. 

As can be imagined there were a lot of upset non-Conservatives the day after that election. 

This time around the Greens are running a good candidate, Frank de Jong, but he is not nearly as well known as his predecessor from the previous election cycle. 

He will get some support but a lot of the Yukon Federal Green vote will drift as part of the ABC (anyone but Conservative) mood that is gripping the nation.

Those votes are going to migrate to either the Liberals or the Dippers. 

There is a feeling that one of the reasons the Liberals lost so narrowly last time is that some of their supporters stayed at home. 

No doubt they will be making an extra effort to get those electors to the polls come October 19. 

They will also be moving heaven and earth to convince people not to listen to local Yukon polling. 

About a week prior to the 2011 election a local poll was released that showed the Liberal candidate winning by a landslide. 

This might have encouraged a lot of soft Liberal supporters to vote Green. 

They assumed the Liberal candidate would win but thought it would be nice to show some support for the Greens and their popular local candidate. 

Thus the incumbent Liberal MP Larry Bagnell lost by 132 votes. 

For 2015 the Liberals are running Bagnell again.

He was the Yukon’s Member of Parliament from 2000 to 2011 which means he has a lot of name recognition. 

Plus he makes it a point of honour to be at every art opening, community fundraiser, sports BBQ, village event and local dance.

Northern legend has it that a person cannot open a can of beans in the Territory without Larry showing up. 

The New Democrats are running Melissa Atkinson, former Chair of the Yukon Human Rights Commission

Her campaign is well organized and would appear to be gaining support among the younger demographic, at least according to the coffee shop gossip. 

That is when we are not gossiping about that unclaimed soy latte. 

Based on a highly unscientific gauging of lawn signs, it currently looks like she has as much if not more support than the other candidates combined. 

Additionally, the Federal NDP have identified the Yukon as one of the ridings they will be able to take away from the Conservatives. 

There is a feeling that some Conservative supporters might not vote given the ongoing disgust with issues such as the Duffy trial revelations, Bill S-6 (a uniquely Yukon piece of revulsion with the Federal government, you can read about it in my Aug 5, 2015 blog entry), Bill C-51, the Unfair Elections Act and on and on it goes. 

There is even a possibility some Conservatives might stay at home on election day. They could also do a protest vote, where the Libertarian candidate Cory Laidler might get support 

This is all difficult news for Ryan Leef, the incumbent Conservative MP. 

While he might be popular with the right-of-centre crowd in the Territory, he cannot win any more support than what he already has. 

No soft Liberal, NDP or Green voter is going to vote for the Conservatives. If they get disillusioned with their current party, they still will not vote Conservative. 

But when they do vote, this time around one hopes they and all Yukoners will be considering the implications of vote splitting. 

Should the Conservatives win this riding again, it would be a bit like forcing everyone to drink something they had not ordered. And something particularly unpleasant at that. 

So vote thoughtfully, and do not mess it up for the rest of us.


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Image: Flickr/Graham Lees

Lewis Rifkind

Lewis Rifkind

Lewis Rifkind is a Whitehorse based part-time environmentalist. His work centers around Yukon recycling, energy and mining issues. When he is not winter camping or summer hiking, he collects stamps...