The territorial election is widely expected to be called one week from today, on Friday, September 9, when Premier Darrell Pasloski speaks at a Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce luncheon.
His predecessor, Dennis Fentie, called the last territorial election at a similar chamber shindig.
Dropping the writ on that day would bring voters to the polls on October 11, the Tuesday following the Thanksgiving long weekend.
Even if Pasloski doesn’t call the election as expected, he’ll need to do it soon: the Yukon Party’s mandate expires in October.
Opposition parties aren’t waiting. Both the Liberals and NDP held their campaign launches last night.
Liberal Leader Arthur Mitchell went so far as to pronounce the expected election date as fact.
“In eight days from now, Yukoners will be plunged into an election, and the Yukon Liberal Party is ready to form the next government,” he said.
Both Mitchell and Hanson delivered stump speeches that hit on familiar notes.
Both promised to adopt the plan to protect four-fifths of the Peel Watershed. Both also vowed to build a homeless shelter and detoxification centre downtown, as proposed by the Beaton-Allen report, and to do more to address Whitehorse’s housing shortage.
And both accused the Yukon Party of being the same as ever, despite its recent change in leadership.
But, while Mitchell’s speech moved a crowd of more than 50 Liberal stalwarts to a half-hearted standing ovation, Hanson’s address was followed by whoops, cheers and chanting from a crowd nearly twice as big.
The Dippers’ party also featured dancing, thanks to music by Kevin Barr, their candidate for Southern Lakes and Mount Lorne. And they had better food, with hummus, tzatziki and spicy chicken thighs served up by Kebabery owner Louis Gagnon, who’s seeking the party’s nomination in Whitehorse West.
Whether being able to throw a better party translates into a more successful election campaign remains to be seen.
The Yukon Party, meanwhile, is cashing in on its cozy relationship with the federal Conservatives, with a flurry of spending announcements.
One week ago, Prime Minister Stephen Harper indicated he’d let the Yukon keep a bigger share of mining royalties.
On Monday, Treasury President Tony Clement assured the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce he won’t meddle with the territory’s transfer payments.
And on Wednesday, Yukon’s Conservative MP, Ryan Leef, announced that Ottawa would provide another $3 million in affordable-housing money over the next three years.
Territorial ministers are also pulling out the stops, leaving no ribbon unsnipped. This has produced the occasional embarrassment.
The Thomson Centre was deemed to be re-opened for elderly patients a few weeks ago, only to be shuttered several days later, when more mould spores were detected in an air quality test.
And on Wednesday, Premier Darrell Pasloski and Education Minister Patrick Rouble turned the sod at the site of the new FH Collins High School. That, despite the fact that construction hasn’t yet been approved by the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board. (See story, page 3.)
The Yukon Party has a full election roster. The Liberals have would-be candidates lined up in every riding except for Pelly-Nisutlin, although a few must still be nominated.
The New Democrats have two ridings without potential candidates: Mayo-Tatchun and Vuntut Gwitchin. See story on their newest contenders below.
McMillan eyes Watson Lake seat
Liard McMillan wants to represent the NDP in Watson Lake.
For the past eight years, McMillan, 35, has served as chief of the Liard First Nation.
He only recently joined the New Democrats. But he’s familiar with territorial politics: during the last election, he urged his constituents to vote for anybody but then-premier Dennis Fentie, who will be vacating the Watson Lake seat as he retires from politics.
The NDP’s focus on social issues appeals to him, he said.
NDP Leader Liz Hanson said she’s “thrilled” to have McMillan on her slate. “He has the dedication and the grit to do hard work,” she said.
McMillan’s family currently lives in Whitehorse, because of difficulty finding daycare in their home community, but McMillan said he continues to spend the majority of his time in Watson Lake.
McMillan made another announcement, other than his candidacy: his First Nation has struck a “historic agreement” with their Kaska neighbours, which he says ought to help with government negotiations and spur economic development.
“Kaska need to work together as a people,” he said.
If nominated, McMillan would take a leave of absence from his job as chief once the writ is dropped.
McMillan wants to see the territory release more land for development near Watson Lake, rebuild the community’s rundown water infrastructure, and help relocate the dump.
Thomas Slager, an elementary school teacher, is carrying the Liberal flag in the riding. Patti McLeod, a former town councillor, is representing the Yukon Party.
McMillan’s announcement helps nearly stitch-up the NDP’s election roster.
This morning, the NDP announced that John Carney would seek the party’s nomination for Porter Creek South. He’s a longtime director and former president of the Yukon Fish and Game Association.
The riding is held by Liberal incumbent Don Inverarity. The Yukon Party is running Mike Nixon, a landlord and former party president.
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