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Edzerza defends computer probe

John Edzerza has no regrets about his decisions as minister responsible for the Public Service Commission under the Fentie government.

John Edzerza has no regrets about his decisions as minister responsible for the Public Service Commission under the Fentie government.

NDP stalwarts and union leaders have forgiven him for his heavy-handed approach during the government’s computer-misuse investigation of 2003, but, in fact, Edzerza is making no apologies.

“The computer investigation was a necessity,” he said Friday.

“I don’t feel that it was heavy-handed. It was handled in the most appropriate way that the commission could do it.”

There were no mass terminations, he added.

During the investigation, the government examined the hard drives of 543 employee computers and took punitive action against 96 of them.

The Yukon Employees Union cried foul and eventually agreed to binding arbitration.

Four employees were fired.

Alex Furlong, president of the Yukon Federation of Labour, blamed Fentie for the investigation and let Edzerza, now an NDP candidate, off the hook.

“He certainly bears some responsibility, but I think he has wised up and made the right choice in the party he is running for,” said Furlong.

But Edzerza’s opinions on the probe have not changed.

“There was a legal obligation to deal with it,” he said.

“It was, in my opinion, a breach in the collective agreement if you didn’t (deal with it).

“The big thing for the government was not to paint everybody with the same brush.

“We realized that not everybody was involved with it.

“In fact, as the minister, I had more calls from employees saying they were glad it was being addressed than the ones that were opposed to it.

“It turned out fairly positive, in my opinion.” (GM)

Crunching the ridings

Let’s assume, for a moment, that an incumbent MLA must point to a margin of victory of more than 100 votes in 2002 to feel safe this year.

That is, 51 votes swinging to other parties would unseat the MLA.

Leaving all other factors (i.e. scandals, incompetence) aside, the math tells us that only eight of 18 MLAs have relative job security.

Now scratch three of those, since independent Peter Jenkins and Liberal Pat Duncan are not running again, and Yukon Party MLA Dean Hassard has switched ridings.

We’re down to five MLAs who are safe.

Three represent the Yukon Party, two are Liberals and none are NDP.

In the 2002 election, nobody had a greater margin of victory that Premier Dennis Fentie, who won 521 of 829 ballots cast in Watson Lake, or 63 per cent.

Strong on Fentie’s flank were Brad Cathers, who won 55 per cent of Lake Laberge votes, and Jim Kenyon, who won 45 per cent in Porter Creek North.

The other two relatively safe MLAs used to be NDP.

The damage that Gary McRobb and Eric Fairclough did to their former party when they jumped to the Liberals is reflected in the math.

McRobb’s margin of victory in Kluane was 318 votes, second only to Fentie.

Fairclough won in Mayo-Tatchun by 129 votes.

Every other MLA was relatively weak in 2002.

But four years change things, and intuition plays a role.

How safe, for instance, is Riverdale North MLA Ted Staffen, who won by 91 votes in 2002 against an incumbent Liberal cabinet minister and has drawn little controversy in his role as Speaker?

Or what about Southern Lakes MLA Patrick Rouble, who only won by 37 votes but held his seat during the construction of a new community centre in Marsh Lake?

And how much credit did Todd Hardy earn by holding community meetings about drug and crime prevention in Whitehorse Centre, where he won 300 votes, or 33 per cent, in the 2002 race that was a four-way split?

Based on the 2002 numbers, the most volatile riding is McIntyre-Takhini, where John Edzerza beat an NDP candidate by only 18 votes in 2002.

This time, Edzerza is the NDP candidate, and he’s facing another veteran First Nations politician, Ed Schultz of the Liberals.

Vuntut Gwitchin is also a wild card, because only 144 people voted in Old Crow in 2002.

The NDP’s Lorraine Peter won in 2002 by 27 votes, or 18 per cent.

Throw three ridings into the mix that do not have incumbents and are therefore up for grabs — Klondike, Porter Creek South and Pelly-Nisutlin — and you’ve got a lot of possibilities. (GM)