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Bagnell wins again

Larry Bagnell bagged another one.The Liberal MP will continue to serve the Yukon for a fourth term after yesterday’s election.

Larry Bagnell bagged another one.

The Liberal MP will continue to serve the Yukon for a fourth term after yesterday’s election.

He received 45.3 per cent of the vote, or 6,567 ballots.

It’s a slight decline over his last victory, in 2006, when he garnered 48.5 per cent of the vote. But Bagnell still won by a 1,811 vote margin over Conservative Darrell Pasloski, who received 32.8 per cent of the popular vote.

The Green Party’s John Streicker followed with 1,880 votes, or 13 per cent of ballots cast.

New Democrat Ken Bolton straggled behind, drawing 1,306, or nine per cent of ballots cast.

“Everyone knew this was going to be the hardest campaign we ever had,” Bagnell told a crowd of supporters at the Yukon Inn. “You knew it was going to be tough, but you stepped up to the plate. You worked, you worked, you worked, and you got it.”

It was a Larry love-in.

Supporters cheered, whistled and clapped as Bagnell entered the room, after having been squirrelled away in private quarters for several hours until the votes had been counted.

Bagnell’s victory speech was earnest and succinct. He talked about working towards a fair society. He promised to challenge funding cuts introduced by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

“I’ll stand up for you and fight for the Yukon,” he said.

And he thanked his rivals, who he said “helped keep our democracy sound.”

The 58-year-old MP’s voice wavered several times during his speech, such as when he introduced his wife, Melissa Craig, who is eight months pregnant.

Ed Krahn, a longtime Bagnell supporter, has helped hammer election signs into lawns and knocked on doors for each of Bagnell’s campaigns.

He credited Bagnell’s continued success to his reputation for being a tireless worker for constituents.

Yukoners tend to vote for a candidate they know and trust, rather than for a party platform, he said.

“These aren’t all Liberals,” he said, gesturing to the crowd. “These are Liberals and Larry supporters.”

“He’s hard-working and he’s done a lot of things for a lot of people.”

The youngest Bagnell supporter in the room was Krahn’s son, Antoine.

Asked what he’s enjoying about the night the most, the young Krahn gestured to a black-and-red Hot Wheels racecar he was playing with.

He’s four and a half years old.

But he’s old enough to know how to yell “Larry.” He did so at the rally, and earlier when his mother went to a polling station to vote, provoking guffaws of laughter.

Bagnell’s campaign received help from about 100 volunteers in Whitehorse, and about 20 people in the communities, said campaign manager Shayne Fairman.

An open question during the campaign was how much of the Yukon’s rural vote the Conservatives would capture.

In the end, the Liberals need not have worried too much.

Bagnell won the majority of votes in Dawson City, where he and Craig married in the summer of 2007.

He did narrowly lose to Pasloski in Watson Lake, hometown of Premier Dennis Fentie, who came out days before the election to announce his support for the Conservatives.

Bagnell wouldn’t comment on the premier’s support of the Conservatives.

“I never talk about Premier Fentie,” said Bagnell.

Others in the crowd, such as Mike Smith, chief of Kwanlin Dun, said he was there expressly to be “against Fentie.”

Voter turnout across the Yukon was 63.7 per cent, with 14,511 of 22,789 of eligible voters turning out at the polls.

The election leaves Harper with a minority government, albeit a stronger one than he possessed before.

Bagnell called Harper “the big loser” of the election, noting the prime minister will have to work harder to co-operate with other parties in Parliament.

Most Liberals in the crowd seemed content with their party remaining in opposition for now, provided that, as one Liberal said, “those buggers don’t get a majority.”