Pam Boyde is sincere and dogged in her determination to become the Yukon’s MP.
It’s Wednesday evening, less than a week before the federal election, and it’s minus 25 degrees Celsius.
Smoke from nearby chimneys hangs in the air and Boyde is pounding the slippery, snow-covered pavement from house to house on Ogilvie Street, canvassing for votes.
“Can I count on your vote,” she asks at each doorway in turn.
The answers vary. “No.” “I don’t know.” “You’ve got my vote, Pam.” And “I’m not saying.”
In a territory where it appears people vote for the person rather the party, Boyde is making sure gets her face out there before Monday’s election.
“A lot of people go into politics for themselves, Pam’s not like that,” said Yukon NDP leader Todd Hardy while campaigning with Boyde in his downtown riding.
And it’s easy to see how important the issues are to Boyde.
Her eyes misted over as she explained how the Liberals take credit for NDP ideas.
“Mr. Bagnell was saying that he and the Liberals were responsible for linking Yukon through the internet,” Boyde said Thursday, while sitting in her campaign headquarters on Strickland Street.
The internet linkage allowed the territory to do business around the world and started the Yukon on the road to a more diversified and stable economic base.
But it was an NDP idea, she said.
“This was the vision of a territorial New Democrat Piers McDonald,” said Boyde as she reached for a tissue.
“I don’t know why I get emotional about this, but I do.”
McDonald confirmed that the territory’s high-speed internet connection was NDP-driven, and declared himself a huge Boyde fan.
Throughout her campaign Boyde has made clear her strong personal convictions to keep the heath care system public and combat climate change — two issues that are especially important to Yukoners.
But what about economic development in the territory?
“We’ve been led to believe the only viable industry in this territory is primary resource extraction,” said Boyde, who advocates a strong, diversified economy.
“The environment and the economy go together; it’s not one or the other,” said Boyde.
Tackling development with environmental consequences in mind will make it sustainable and keep jobs in the territory.
She called the proposed Alaska Highway natural gas pipeline a “boom and bust” project. It will generate a lot of jobs initially, but once gas starts running “we’ll just be a conduit,” she said.
Today Boyde lives in the Ibex Valley with her husband and a team of 20 dogs. She’s an avid paddler and an expert in tai chi.
On a recent trip to China, Boyde achieved rank four (out of a possible seven) in the martial art.
She brings tai chi’s ethos of internal balance and power to all parts of her life, including her politics.
Boyde, now 58, has had many past lives — as a nurse, a teacher and owner of a wilderness tourism outfit.
Since the mid-‘60s she and her husband travelled north from BC to canoe the Yukon’s rivers ever summer.
They made the move to Mayo in 1985.
Three years later she became then-MLA McDonald’s assistant. That’s when she became impressed with a politician’s ability to help people.
“Never in my wildest imagination, in those days, I never thought I’d run for office,” said Boyde.
In 2001, Boyde decided to throw her hat in the ring when Yukon MP Larry Bagnell dropped the ball by not opposing the Marine Liabilities Act.
That legislation drastically raised insurance rates for marine tourism and crippled small businesses, she said.
“That was a very personal thing because it affected my business, but also it affected the whole wilderness tourism industry,” said Boyde.
In 2004, she ran a positive campaign that highlighted what an NDP government could accomplish for Yukoners.
She was soundly beaten. Bagnell took 45 per cent of the vote, Boyde just 25 per cent.
So, in this election, Boyde has shown her tougher side.
She’s called attention to “Liberal corruption, arrogance and waste,” and accused Bagnell of hiding his “embarrassing” parliamentary voting record from his constituents.
“We need a change,” said Boyde, citing the effects of Liberal corruption in Ottawa and across the country.
“If I felt strongly about it in 2004, I feel stronger about it now.”
It’s a tactic she’s called “shaming the opposition.
“We feed into what’s going to capture peoples’ attention,” Boyde said at a youth issues forum Tuesday.
“I know when I put out news releases on my position on the environment, on my position on education, it didn’t get much attention, but when I had a news conference on accountability — it caught attention.”
Although her media campaign has focused on tearing down the Liberals, Boyde has stressed a more substantial message where it counts the most — in the neighbourhoods, face to face with Yukoners.
“At the door I’m talking about policy — about what the NDP can do to