Dippers drum up support

Yukon's New Democrats hope to turn their party's federal surge into victory during the upcoming territorial election.

Yukon’s New Democrats hope to turn their party’s federal surge into victory during the upcoming territorial election.

Leader Liz Hanson addressed about 35 party faithful during Saturday’s annual convention—not an overwhelming turnout, but far better than just one year ago, when the gathering was small enough for members to sit in a circle facing one another.

The party’s membership base has swollen since Hanson became leader in the autumn of 2009. Then, they had 65 members. Now, they have 319.

That’s in large part thanks to people like Carol Ann Gingras, whom Hanson praised for her hard work enlisting new members.

Two years ago, Gingras had never joined a political party. But she soon came to trust Hanson, 60, who lacks razzle-dazzle but possesses quiet credibility.

“When she says, ‘I want to hear what you have to say,’ she really means it,” said Gingras.

And Hanson’s persistent. She banged on enough doors during the Whitehorse Centre byelection to win more than half the votes, earning her the nickname of Landslide Liz.

Since winning her seat, Hanson has become a fixture at community events around the territory, which may help explain the party’s rebound in popularity, seen in a DataPath poll released in late April.

It put the ruling Yukon Party and NDP neck-and-neck, with both enjoying close to one-third of the vote, while the opposition Liberals lagged behind, with 25 per cent.

Members met at the Yukon francophone association’s building, as a subtle nod to the NDP’s landslide success in Quebec during this month’s federal election. Election signs hung on the wall served as a reminder of the NDP’s past reign in the territory. Hopes were high for a return to dominance.

NDP Leader Liz Hanson rallied her troops in preparation for a territorial election, which must be triggered by the autumn. Given that the Yukon Party is in the midst of a leadership race, it seems unlikely that an election would be called any earlier.

“We’re in an election campaign,” she said. “Make no mistake about it.”

Hanson warned that a new Yukon Party leader will be cut from the same cloth as Premier Dennis Fentie. “We’ve fallen into the trap of talking about the Fentie government,” she said. “Don’t be fooled by a kinder, gentler face.”

Sooner or later, “you can expect the ugly truth to come out.”

Hanson also objected to how the debate over the fate of the Peel Watershed has been framed as a trade-off between preserving the environment and keeping the economy firing at all cylinders.

“It’s false. It’s wrong.”

The New Democrats want to review Yukon’s free-entry method of staking mineral claims, which has resulted in the Slinky placer mine opening near Dawson City’s Dome Road subdivision.

Hanson spoke to one family residing there that could see heavy machinery “literally, in their back yard.”

The NDP also wants to revisit the Yukon’s practice of charging mere pennies in royalties on every ounce of gold that’s mined.

The revelation that Premier Dennis Fentie has sat on $17.5 million in affordable housing money – allegedly to bolster the territory’s savings account – shocked Hanson.

Not spending that money, while Whitehorse is in the midst of an acute housing shortage, “is a crime,” she said. “It really is.”

New Democrats support the Northern City Housing Coalition’s proposal to build supervised dwellings for Whitehorse’s hardcore alcoholics. The Yukon Party’s failure to help those in need means “we’re going to go through another winter with people on the street,” said Hanson.

New Democrats would rejig how the territory develops new lots, to ensure land is sold at cost, rather than at the government’s questionable notion of fair market value.

Currently, Whitehorse businesses are unable to recruit workers, “because there’s no place to live,” said Hanson. Meanwhile, young couples “can’t begin to think about buying a house in this market.”

The current lot shortage is a slow-burning problem created from a decade of dithering on the part of municipal and federal governments. Hanson treated this shortsightness with sarcasm: “Gee, might we want to have land available?”

Hanson praised the attendance of a half-dozen twenty-somethings at the annual convention. Young people are key to the health of a political party.

Hanson’s speech was preceded by a squabble over whether the Yukon NDP should lift their current ban on members belonging to another federal party. In the end, the proposal was shot down.

The following day, former NDP MP Audrey McLaughlin led approximately eight would-be candidates through a crash-course on how to become a candidate in the upcoming territorial election.

No new candidates have been announced since Lois Moorcroft, a former NDP Justice minister, declared her plans to run last week. Among the possible contenders is Kevin Barr, the NDP’s candidate in the recent federal election, who is now considering entering territorial politics.

Contact John Thompson at

johnt@yukon-news.com.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Several people enter the COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Coast High Country Inn Convention Centre in Whitehorse on Jan. 26. The Yukon government announced on Jan. 25 that residents of Whitehorse, Ibex Valley, Marsh Lake and Mount Lorne areas 65 and older can now receive their vaccines. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Vaccine appointments available in Whitehorse for residents 65+

Yukoners 65 and older living in Whitehorse are now eligible to receive… Continue reading

Diane McLeod-McKay, Yukon’s Ombudsman and information and privacy commissioner, filed a petition on Dec. 11 after her office was barred from accessing documents related to a child and family services case. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon government rejects Ombudsman requests for documentation filed to Supreme Court

Diane McLeod-McKay filed a petition on Dec. 11 after requests for documents were barred

Buffalo Sabres center Dylan Cozens, left, celebrates his first NHL goal with defenceman Rasmus Ristolainen during the second period of a game against the Washington Capitals on Jan. 22 in Washington. (Nick Wass/AP)
Cozens notches first NHL goal in loss to Capitals

The Yukoner potted his first tally at 10:43 of the second period on Jan. 22

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Former CEO of Great Canadian Gaming, actress charged after flying to Beaver Creek for COVID-19 vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Are they coming?

One of COVID-19’s big economic questions is whether it will prompt a… Continue reading

The bus stop at the corner of Industrial and Jasper Road in Whitehorse on Jan. 25. The stop will be moved approximately 80 metres closer to Quartz Road. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
UPDATED: Industrial Road bus stop to be relocated

The city has postponed the move indefinitely

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment in Faro photgraphed in 2016. Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old building currently accommodating officers. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Faro RCMP tagged for new detachment

Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old… Continue reading

In a Jan. 18 announcement, the Yukon government said the shingles vaccine is now being publicly funded for Yukoners between age 65 and 70, while the HPV vaccine program has been expanded to all Yukoners up to and including age 26. (1213rf.com)
Changes made to shingles, HPV vaccine programs

Pharmacists in the Yukon can now provide the shingles vaccine and the… Continue reading

Parking attendant Const. Ouellet puts a parking ticket on the windshield of a vehicle in downtown Whitehorse on Dec. 6, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is hoping to write of nearly $300,000 in outstanding fees, bylaw fines and court fees, $20,225 of which is attributed to parking fines issued to non-Yukon license plates. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City of Whitehorse could write off nearly $300,000

The City of Whitehorse could write off $294,345 in outstanding fees, bylaw… Continue reading

Grants available to address gender-based violence

Organizations could receive up to $200,000

In this illustration, artist-journalist Charles Fripp reveals the human side of tragedy on the Stikine trail to the Klondike in 1898. A man chases his partner around the tent with an axe, while a third man follows, attempting to intervene. (The Daily Graphic/July 27, 1898)
History Hunter: Charles Fripp — gold rush artist

The Alaskan coastal town of Wrangell was ill-equipped for the tide of… Continue reading

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. While Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis is now setting his sights on the upcoming territorial election, other members of council are still pondering their election plans for the coming year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillors undecided on election plans

Municipal vote set for Oct. 21

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decicions made by Whitehorse city council this week.

Most Read