De Jong says Green Party suffered from strategic voting

Yukon's federal Green Party candidate says Canadians outsmarted the country's "dinosaur" electoral system by voting strategically for a Liberal government this week.

Yukon’s federal Green Party candidate says Canadians outsmarted the country’s “dinosaur” electoral system by voting strategically for a Liberal government this week.

Frank de Jong fared worst of the four Yukon candidates in Monday’s election, claiming just three per cent of the vote, or 577 ballots.

He is pleased with the change in government, but he believes strategic votes cast for Liberal candidate Larry Bagnell cost him and NDP candidate Melissa Atkinson in this election. In 2011, popular Green Party candidate John Streicker took home 19 per cent of the vote and was accused of contributing to Bagnell’s loss to Conservative candidate Ryan Leef.

De Jong said he thinks many people were hoping for a Liberal minority in this election, and he worries that the Liberals won’t have an incentive to follow through on key issues like electoral reform with a majority government.

“The fox is in charge of the henhouse again,” he said. “I hope the Liberals don’t take it for granted. A lot of their support is due to strategic voting.”

De Jong pointed out that the Liberals only won 40 per cent of the vote, the same portion the Conservatives won to form their majority government in 2011. “They have an artificial majority, so they shouldn’t get too overconfident.”

Still, strategic voting is likely not solely to blame for de Jong’s poor showing. The Faro resident is a newcomer to the territory, having moved to the Yukon from Ontario just 14 months ago. He also wasn’t able to begin campaigning until September, thanks to his job as a schoolteacher.

In spite of being relatively unknown, de Jong said he had some rewarding encounters on the campaign trail. He mentioned speaking with a high school student who was interested in the Green Party’s pledge to eliminate post-secondary tuition. She told him she’s currently planning to go to Norway for college, since there is no tuition there.

De Jong said he had about 12 volunteers on his campaign, and roughly 10 people showed up to the election party at his campaign headquarters in Whitehorse on Monday. He was the first candidate to congratulate Bagnell on his win that evening. Bagnell, he said, has promised to gather up the Green Party’s campaign signs in some of the communities, since the party’s resources are so limited.

“Larry was very warm,” de Jong said. “Hopefully there are no hard feelings among the candidates. It’s a contest of ideas, not personalities.”

De Jong headed back to Faro on Tuesday, to resume teaching on Wednesday morning. “No rest for the wicked,” he joked.

But he said his political career is not over, and he may even consider running for the Green Party during the next territorial election. He said he likely wouldn’t do anything differently if he runs again.

“The Green Party has a lot of new ideas. We want to be elected on what we have to offer. I think we did our best, and we did a pretty respectable job under the circumstances.”

Contact Maura Forrest at

maura.forrest@yukon-news.com

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