Yukon’s pre election purgatory drags on

Sometimes it’s hard to tell if that cold, creepy feeling is just the season changing to fall or the grey, chilling presence of the impending territorial election.

Sometimes it’s hard to tell if that cold, creepy feeling is just the season changing to fall or the grey, chilling presence of the impending territorial election.

Ever since the Legislative Assembly dissolved in May, we’ve been stuck in pre-election purgatory, our MLAs shuffling the streets as the political undead: unable to accomplish much of substance and not quite able to campaign outright, even though everyone knows what’s just around the corner.

It helps to be the government, of course. If you’re a cabinet minister, you have the luxury of announcing new projects and being the bearer of “good” news, even if you’re announcing things that ought to have been done months or years ago.

There are all kinds of small absurdities built in to the machinery of responsible government, one being that the government treats the exact election date as some kind of state secret, even though we know that, by law, the writ must be dropped by Oct. 17 at the latest.

The result is this seemingly endless pre-campaign period, during which time the public is subject to all sorts of tedious posturing and sniping.

To wit: Last Friday the Yukon Party issued a news release trying to tie Sandy Silver to comments made by Sebastian Jones of the Yukon Conservation Society, who supposedly referred to placer mining as “evil” while speaking to CBC. Without hearing the tape, it’s unclear if Jones referring placer mining in general or the highly contentious Dome Road project, which has riled a lot of Dawson residents, including the Tr’ondek Hwech’in First Nation, over the last couple of years.

At any rate, Jones, writing on Facebook, later “endorsed” Silver as his choice for MLA, though the phrasing makes it sound like he was settling on Silver by default (the Liberal leader was the only nominated candidate at the time).

The Yukon Party suggests Silver must either support placer mining or accept the unsolicited endorsement of Some Guy On The Internet. This is a false, dumb choice, but if you’re running a campaign desperate to rack up gotcha points, who cares? The point is to put your opponent on the defensive.

Not to be outdone, the NDP this week went banging on Whitehorse doors as part of their “Day of Action” on mental health services.

It is no secret that such services are woefully lacking in the territory, especially outside the capital, but Wednesday’s action consisted not of helping anyone actually access mental health services, but dropping off flyers and collection voter information for the party’s campaign database.

It was election canvassing in all but name, and a party staffer, reached by phone Thursday afternoon, saw nothing the least bit craven or cynical about this.

The Liberals for their part, haven’t made any huge missteps yet (though it’s early). But a representative for Jeane Lassen, the party’s candidate in Takhini-Kopper King did submit for this paper’s consideration a saccharine op-ed piece detailing Lassen’s — admittedly impressive — Olympic experience, which taught her the importance of hard work and teamwork, (skills which she is clearly the first politician in history to discover) and offering precisely nothing in the way of policy ideas.

All this and we haven’t even hit September yet. The Yukon Party has yet to dust off their delusional accusation that the Liberals and NDP are plotting some kind of (actually perfectly legal) coalition. But again, it’s early days.

Depressing as all this is, Donald Trump is still a thing, and none of our political parties will come close to plumbing the ghastly depths that America’s cheese-coloured neo-fascist is content to dwell in. So it could always be worse.

But perhaps the premier could do us all a favour and call the damn election already.

Correction: The territorial election must be called by Oct. 17. The NDP’s “Day of Action” took place last Wednesday, not Thursday. Incorrect information appeared in the original version.

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