Gird yourself for the storm

The year 2016 may seem a long way away, but it’s not if you’re marking time by politics. You should circle that year on your calendar.

The year 2016 may seem a long way away, but it’s not if you’re marking time by politics.

You should circle that year on your calendar.

Because it is looking like the earliest opportunity opposition parties have to defeat the Yukon Party in an election.

The legislature has resumed its fall sitting, but the dog-and-pony show is of little consequence.

Neither opposition party is currently in a position to govern the territory, let alone defeat the Yukon Party.

And that is not good for the territory. More about that in a minute.

The Yukon NDP is a spent force.

Todd Hardy, the party’s doctrinaire leader, has proved incapable of building a populist party.

He’s not a big-tent politician, like his premier predecessors Piers McDonald and Tony Penikett — leaders who were willing to bend their principles to advance the socialist cause in a conservative society.

Hardy won’t do this. He only fraternizes with like-minded folks. And there aren’t many of those around.

Talking shop with folks who agree with you may be comforting and allows you to remain true to your principles. But it’s hard to see what good that does you when you’re spiralling into oblivion.

Hardy has proved incapable of building his party’s support.

The New Democrat share of the popular vote has fallen in every election since 1996, but it fell precipitously under Hardy’s watch.

It hit 23.6 per cent of the popular vote in 2006, down from 26.9 per cent on 2002. It was 32.8 per cent in 2000. It was 39.9 per cent in 1996, when McDonald formed government. For New Democrats, the trend is deeply disturbing.

What’s happened is the moderates who once filled out the party’s ranks, who ran the successful election campaigns, have fled.

And the territorial party has proved incapable of recruiting new talent.

Hardy remains true to his principles, but the result is the New Democrat machine of the ‘80s and ‘90s is now a fringe party incapable of affecting its agenda. Any agenda.

It now boasts just two politicians besides Hardy — John Edzerza and Steve Cardiff. Neither were around to support Hardy’s leadership ambitions. Everyone else is gone.

At this point, rebuilding the organization will take a monumental effort.

Gary McRobb and Eric Fairclough fled the caucus for the Liberals — that party is now the only viable place for moderate socialists to park their support.

Unfortunately, things are not that healthy in the Liberal camp either.

And, once again, leadership is the issue.

The Liberal caucus is not happy with Arthur Mitchell’s performance. Things are so bad, members of his caucus confronted him about his shortcomings last spring, demanding change.

If the ultimatum had any effect, it hasn’t manifested itself publicly. Mitchell still seems self absorbed.

The party’s rank and file are not united either.

Mitchell seized the reigns from Pat Duncan and, in doing so, split the party into factions.

They are still fighting.

A more galvanizing leader would have worked to unite the tribes. But Mitchell hasn’t mended the rifts.

And he hasn’t put forward a compelling vision of the territory to sell to voters.

The result — strong Liberal supporters are stepping aside from the organization in favour of more rewarding volunteer gigs, sapping the party’s strength and talent.

During the recent federal election, we’ve heard more than a couple of Bagnell supporters vow never to work for Mitchell’s territorial Liberal Party.

They are not supporting Hardy’s New Democrats either.

So where does that leave us?

The weak opposition is not good for the Yukon.

Parliamentary majorities are powerful, but their power is magnified when there is no viable shadow government in waiting.

Such is the case in the Yukon right now.

Premier Dennis Fentie can govern as he chooses.

And he’s doing a questionable job.

The civil service has ballooned under his watch, spending is out of control and pork-barrelling is rampant, as seen by plans to spend $70 million in his own riding on a hospital and a road that sees fewer than a dozen vehicles a day.

This, in a town of 800 people badly in need of sewer and water works and better education facilities.

The problem? Voters see no alternative — so these issues have no traction.

But the territory needs an alternative.

Last week, Fentie laid out how he’s going to shepherd the territory through the worsening global financial crisis.

He’s going to spend money.

The knee-jerk, prime-the-pump scheme will be personally overseen by him and a few handpicked department heads.

It’s a model rife for abuse.

And that’s disconcerting, given Fentie’s record. Tons of money has been blown in the last few years and the territory has little to show for it.

People should be concerned.

But they’re not. Because they don’t have confidence anyone on the territorial stage could do any better.

Welcome to the one-party state.

Hardy’s New Democrats have been laid so low, there is little chance of the party mounting a serious challenge by 2011, the latest date for the next territorial election.

Many disaffected Liberals are resigned to a second Mitchell loss in 2010 or ‘11, and are preparing to rebuild for the next election — 2016.

Mark it on your calendar.

And batten down. There’s a storm coming and things are going to get rough.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Whitehorse and Carcross will be among seven northern communities to have unlimited internet options beginning Dec. 1. (Yukon News file)
Unlimited internet for some available Dec. 1

Whitehorse and Carcross will be among seven northern communities to have unlimited… Continue reading

Willow Brewster, a paramedic helping in the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre, holds a swab used for the COVID-19 test moments before conducting a test with it on Nov. 24. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
An inside look at the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre

As the active COVID-19 case count grew last week, so too did… Continue reading

Conservation officers search for a black bear in the Riverdale area in Whitehorse on Sept. 17. The Department of Environment intends to purchase 20 semi-automatic AR-10 rifles, despite the inclusion of the weapons in a recently released ban introduced by the federal government, for peace officers, such as conservation officers. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Environment Minister defends purchase of AR-10 rifles for conservation officers

The federal list of banned firearms includes an exception for peace officers

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: The K-shaped economic recovery and what Yukoners can do about it

It looks like COVID-19 will play the role of Grinch this holiday… Continue reading

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Mask fundraiser helps make children’s wishes come true

From Black Press Media + BraveFace – adult, youth and kid masks support Make-A-Wish Foundation

Colin McDowell, the director of land management for the Yukon government, pulls lottery tickets at random during a Whistle Bend property lottery in Whitehorse on Sept. 9, 2019. A large amount of lots are becoming available via lottery in Whistle Bend as the neighbourhood enters phase five of development. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Lottery for more than 250 new Whistle Bend lots planned for January 2021

Eight commercial lots are being tendered in additional to residential plots

The Government of Yukon Main Administration Building in Whitehorse on Aug. 21. The Canada Border Services Agency announced Nov. 26 that they have laid charges against six people, including one Government of Yukon employee, connected to immigration fraud that involved forged Yukon government documents. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Charges laid in immigration fraud scheme, warrant out for former Yukon government employee

Permanent residency applications were submitted with fake Yukon government documents

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Karen Wenkebach has been appointed as a judge for the Yukon Supreme Court. (Yukon News file)
New justice appointed

Karen Wenckebach has been appointed as a judge for the Supreme Court… Continue reading

Catherine Constable, the city’s manager of legislative services, speaks at a council and senior management (CASM) meeting about CASM policy in Whitehorse on June 13, 2019. Constable highlighted research showing many municipalities require a lengthy notice period before a delegate can be added to the agenda of a council meeting. Under the current Whitehorse procedures bylaw, residents wanting to register as delegates are asked to do so by 11 a.m. on the Friday ahead of the council meeting. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Changes continue to be contemplated for procedures bylaw

Registration deadline may be altered for delegates

Cody Pederson of the CA Storm walks around LJ’s Sabres player Clay Plume during the ‘A’ division final of the 2019 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament. The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28 in Whitehorse next year, was officially cancelled on Nov. 24 in a press release from organizers. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament cancelled

The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28… Continue reading

Lev Dolgachov/123rf
The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner stressed the need to safeguard personal information while shopping this holiday season in a press release on Nov. 24.
Information and Privacy Commissioner issues reminder about shopping

The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner Diane McLeod-McKay stressed the need to… Continue reading

Most Read