Yukon newspapers and election headlines

Monday November 7th is election day in the Yukon. Voters will be heading for the polls to elect the next territorial government.

Actually, let us backtrack for a moment. About four fifths of eligible voters will be heading for the poll because 5,284 Yukoners already voted at advance polls. Given that there are only about twenty-five thousand eligible voters in the territory this advance voting certainly shows interest is high among the electorate. And, as an aside, high turnouts at advance polls tend to be bad news for incumbent parties. 

All nineteen electoral districts have candidates from the three main parties running. Citizens can choose from the incumbent right-leaning Yukon Party, the centrist Yukon Liberal Party, and the left-of-centre Yukon New Democratic Party. The Yukon Green Party is running five candidates, and there is one independent. 

It is often a delicate balance to choose between a local candidate, the party platform, and the party leader. But if one was to base one’s vote on the party leaders and associated platform, the choice does get a little easier. 

It must be noted that the individuals running also certainly influence a voters choice. Yukoners tend to be a colourful lot, and the ones that run for public office even more so. There is neither the time nor the space to inflict upon the reader detailed character descriptions of each candidate. Let us stick to the main players.

The leader of the Yukon Party, Darrell Pasloski, has been in elected office for the last five years. But the party he leads have been in power for a total of fourteen years. There is a feeling that it is time for a change.

The Yukon Party is also thought of as being part of the Yukon good old boys network. Since they have been the establishment for so long it is perhaps a well deserved moniker.

Anytime any group has been in office that long there is a perception, rightly or wrongly, that things have become too comfortable for the politicians, and this comfort is at the expense of good policy and innovation. 

Since being under the Yukon Party rule, the Yukon Government is now involved in some serious court cases involving environmental and First Nation issues. This is causing a lot of what is termed “uncertainty” in the business community. 

Resource extraction investment is fleeing the territory, and the last hard-rock mine in the Yukon is on the verge of closing. All bad news for an allegedly pro-business political party. 

Finally, their campaign seems to consist almost solely of fighting the federal government on the imposition of the carbon tax. It would be nice to see a bit more of a vision being offered for the future of the territory. 

This election, it is time to turf them out. The question that is being asked in many households is who to replace them with.

One option is the Yukon Liberal Party, led by Sandy Silver. There was an attempt by someone on social media to play up his youthful looks, perhaps taking a leaf from the federal Liberal playbook. 

Now do not get me wrong. I am a huge Trudeau fan and stand second to none in my admiration of his use of social media. Just do not get me started on the awful policies and lack of follow through on some of his campaign promises. Love the man, hate the politician is perhaps the best way to summarize it. 

Getting back to Silver, he is the only incumbent Liberal MLA. All the rest of his party candidates will be MLA novices should they get elected. This does not mean that some of them are without decent political experience either at the municipal level or through First Nation governments.  

In the various debates held leading up to the election Silver has come across as bright and earnest and able to articulate his party platform. It is a nice balance between the economy and the environment, and Silver is in the unique position of having his riding outside of the capital Whitehorse and in Dawson City, a notable mining centre. 

He can, and has, presented himself as someone who will advocate not only for existing business interests such as the mining community, but also someone who will protect the environment. 

The problem is that it sometimes sounds as if he is coming across as being all things to all people. The platform they are campaigning on is certainly better than the Yukon Party’s, but is the Liberal platform enough of a fresh start for most Yukoners?

The alternative is that of Liz Hanson’s Yukon New Democrats. Judging by the public debates she certainly came across as the smartest and, I would argue, the most visionary of the three main party leaders.

The Dippers also have the luxury of having six incumbents running for re-election. The other NDP candidates are pulling out all the stops to ensure the electorate gets to know them. There is even the possibility one of them could unseat the present premier. 

They have articulated well their view of what the Yukon will be like should Hanson be premier. It is economically hopeful, environmentally responsible, and respectful when it comes to dealing with all Yukoners. 

Their platform has some nice lefty positions, including raising the minimum wage to fifteen dollars an hour, free first year of tuition at Yukon College, and giving tax credits to Yukoners who train as health care professionals and then return to work in the territory.  

While the last idea certainly has shades of the television show Northern Exposure all over it, it is a good idea and would be a rather unusual example of life imitating, if not art, at least Hollywood. 

The Yukon New Democrats are not anti-business and certainly not anti-mining. In their platform there is among other items a small business investment tax credit and a commitment to get Yukoners seventy-five percent of local mining jobs. 

The progressive vision being put forward by Hanson is what the Yukon needs. That is why I voted for the Yukon New Democrats. Yes, past tense. I was one of the 5,284 Yukoners who voted in the advance polls.

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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...