voters face a clear choice

It is no longer murky. The territorial election is a two-way race between the Liberal and the Yukon parties.

It is no longer murky.

The territorial election is a two-way race between the Liberal and the Yukon parties.

The NDP is not ready to govern the territory.

In fact, it is struggling to handle a month-long election campaign.

The (dis)organization had no campaign manager at the start of the race and struggled to fill its slate of candidates, doing so only after the Parachute Club — campaign manager Lillian Grubach-Hambrook and failed McIntyre-Takhini candidate Rachael Lewis — were airdropped into Kluane and Watson Lake, respectively, at the 11th hour.

The whole effort is in freefall.

And its campaign literature is a joke.

“You can count our commitments on one hand,” says its flimsy eight-page platform.

Yeah, you read that right.

The NDP will be hard working and honest, will educate and train people, improve their health and protect the environment while building a strong economy.

Platitudes.

There is little else.

Certainly no costs.

Leader Todd Hardy claims it is irresponsible to give supporters a ballpark estimate of what you are promising, a staggering confession from a party that has a reputation — deserved or not — for being too loose with the purse strings.

And, while the party has floated a couple of good ideas — a territory-wide smoking ban in workplaces and public areas, protection of critical wetlands and watersheds — it’s not enough to justify putting it in control of the territory.

In fact, most of the promises in its 650-word platform are so vague as to be meaningless.

It promises a climate change action plan. The details? There aren’t any.

Others are a little frightening.

For example, the NDP promises a better share of Yukon government jobs and services for rural communities.

How? There’s no detail, which makes you wonder if it’s a viable plan or a retread of Tony Penikett’s botched decentralization scheme, which was cobbled together in the runup to the ‘92 election to win rural votes?

Other promises are simply goofy.

Take the NDP’s promise of a local hire policy — this in a territory that has a critical labour shortage.

We remind its strategists that the territory needs more southern immigrants, not a protectionist government.

It makes one wonder if any thought went into the NDP document at all.

Then, on Thursday, Steve Cardiff suggested successful business leaders need not run for politics — or must divest themselves of everything once they are elected.

Is he serious? A base-level MLA makes in the neighbourhood of $55,000 and there’s no job security.

Cardiff noted, with a bit of pride, that no existing New Democrat candidate had any significant assets beyond a mortgage and a couple of shares in Air North.

Is this how far the territory has fallen? Really?

Are we saying that, following ethical lapses within the current government, the only people who can run for office are people who can claim no significant financial success?

Is Cardiff running for the NDP, or the Rhino Party?

We remind the NDP campaign team that former leader Piers McDonald and his lieutenant Trevor Harding had significant investments, and ran the territory without conflict of interest scandals.

It can be done. But it’s sad that four troubled years have erased the memory.

And, finally, there’s the NDP’s cult-of-personality campaign.

The party’s signs, which are reminiscent of South American revolutionary posters, pin success on a guy battling a life-threatening illness.

Who was responsible for that decision? Is anyone thinking clearly over there?

Who is the successor, should Hardy be unable to carry out his public duties? The public doesn’t know.

Can voters responsibly elect an NDP government amid such uncertainty?

No.

Of course, it’s easy to blame the campaign’s problems on Hardy’s illness.

Truth is, that merely added to the bedlam.

The wider party lacked confidence in Hardy’s leadership. Many felt he wasn’t laying the groundwork for an election win.

There was chatter of an ouster, but challengers couldn’t organize one before the territory slipped into election mode.

And then the NDP was rocked when Hardy purged two of its most prominent members – Eric Fairclough and Gary McRobb – in the spring.

That is, things imploded well before Hardy fell sick.

Today, ‘Todd Hardy and the NDP’ soldiers on.

It’s a brave face, but the NDP is not the government in waiting.

The Liberals have grabbed that ground, while the NDP, as one disgruntled supporter put it recently, is firmly in the grips of the “lunatic fringe.”

It is a shell of its former self and must rebuild.

And so, a little more than a week before the election, voters interested in responsible government have two choices.

It’s a two-way race between the Liberal and Yukon parties. (RM)