Yukoners will head to the polls to choose their next territorial government April 12.
Yukon Premier Sandy Silver made the announcement at a press conference on Friday afternoon, surrounded by 14 currently sitting MLAs and new candidates.
“We have been monitoring the COVID-19 situation waiting to see if the territory is safe enough to hold an election. With a strong vaccine uptake and the measures being put in place to stop the importation of the virus, I believe the time is now,” he said.
Silver said he visited the commissioner the morning of March 12 to ask the Legislative Assembly to be dissolved. Voting day for the 39th territorial election will be Monday, April 12.
Advance polls will be on Sunday, April 4 and Monday, April 5.
The current sitting of the legislature is now dissolved. The incoming premier — whoever that ends up being — can then choose whether or not to hold a replacement spring or summer sitting, or to wait until a fall sitting.
By law, the election needed to be called before Nov. 18, 2021. The Liberals chose the spring date.
Silver said he made the decision to call the election before the territorial budget passed through the legislature because he got a “strong signal” that the opposition would not support it, despite the Liberals having a majority in the house.
“We believe that our record is strong and that with four more years, we can continue to build on these accomplishments and take the territory even further because there is much more to be done,” Silver said.
Elections Yukon has released detailed guidelines for how the parties will campaign in the COVID-19 pandemic.
In quick press conferences following the announcement, opposition party leaders Kate White and Currie Dixon said after four years of Liberal rule, they are confident Yukoners will be looking for something different on voting day.
“Frustrated Yukoners are looking for strong leadership, and quite frankly, Yukoners deserve better,” Dixon said. “I think we’ve got a really good mix of experienced folks who have been in the legislature, been in cabinet and new people who have come to the party to add new fresh ideas.”
Dixon criticized the choice to call an election before the vaccination campaign was complete, saying that Silver was putting the “Liberal Party’s political interests above the health needs and safety of Yukoners.”
Asked about the timing of the election, NDP leader Kate White said her party was ready to campaign.
“When Yukoners voted out the Yukon Party five years ago, they put their trust in the Liberals. While it wasn’t the result that I was hoping for, I understood their optimism. Yukoners gave the Liberals a chance, but they have been sadly disappointed,” White said.
“The Premier called an election, and there are three people putting their name forward for that position,” she said. “I intend to be the kind of premier who does what she says she’ll do.”
While the Liberal party budget provides a de facto campaign platform, the NDP and the Yukon Party have yet to release their comprehensive plans for the territory. Those documents are expected in the coming weeks.
So far there are currently 60 candidates and nominees in the Yukon’s 19 ridings. That leaves 15 potential open slots for the three main parties yet to be announced. Right now no candidates are running against Silver in Klondike or Kate White in Takhini-Kopper King.
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