Liberals looking for new leadership

The Yukon Liberal Party is looking for a new leader. Arthur Mitchell stepped down last night, after serving more than six years in the legislature. As he walked into a room of roughly 25 Liberal party faithful at the Yukon Inn...

The Yukon Liberal Party is looking for a new leader.

Arthur Mitchell stepped down last night, after serving more than six years in the legislature.

As he walked into a room of roughly 25 Liberal party faithful at the Yukon Inn, Mitchell was met with a standing ovation.

“The territory voted, and it may not have ended the way we’d hoped,” said Mitchell, who lost his Copperbelt North riding to the Yukon Party’s Currie Dixon.

“But Yukoners have charted the course of the next five years and we have to respect their decision.”

The Liberals won only two seats in yesterday’s election: Sandy Silver is the new Liberal MLA for Klondike and Darius Elias was re-elected in Old Crow.

Mitchell took the blame for the poor Liberal showing.

“We had an amazing team, and it’s not any fault of theirs,” he said.

“It was up to the leader to get us there, and I didn’t quite do it.

“It’s only right to tender my resignation as leader.

“It’s been the greatest honour of my life to be your leader for the last six years,” he said, unsuccessfully holding back tears.


                                  RELATED STORIES:
                                NDP vows to hold YP to account

                                Yukon Party wins three-peat

                                After vote, Green leader plans fallow

                                EDITORIAL: Push for change



The Liberals had an excellent team, said former Yukon senator and commissioner Ione Christensen.

“The calibre of their candidates was the best.

“It’s too bad they didn’t win, the Yukon would have been better as a result.”

The Liberals ran a good campaign, added former Yukon MP Larry Bagnell.

“And they had good policy ideas.”

It’s difficult to defeat a government when the economy is strong, said Mitchell.

“But we also have to look after those people who are not benefiting from a strong economy,” he said.

“And we have to look after our environment.”

That’s why the Liberals promised to protect the Peel.

“It was a divisive issue for some,” said Mitchell.

“But we don’t regret it.


“Mining is important and we want to see it flourish – but some places need to be protected.”

Mitchell called on re-elected NDP Leader Liz Hanson and her team, as well as Elias and Silver to “advocate on behalf of the Peel.”

It’s up to “Sandy and Darius to do their best to keep the flame alive,” he said.

Mitchell also congratulated Premier Darrell Pasloski.

“While we have some philosophical differences, everybody comes to this career because they believe in the Yukon and that’s what’s important,” he said.

Mayo-Tatchun Liberal incumbent Eric Fairclough lost his seat to the NDP’s Jim Tredger, while Porter Creek South Liberal incumbent Don Inverarity lost his seat to the Yukon Party’s Mike Nixon by only 14 votes.

“It was a cliffhanger,” said Inverarity.

Porter Creek Centre Liberal incumbent Kerry Huff also lost to the Yukon Party’s Dave Laxton.

“People were happy with the economy and afraid of change,” said Huff.

“The issues were polarized, and there was no room in the middle for us.”

Yukon politics have taken a radical turn, said Whitehorse West Liberal candidate Cully Robinson, who lost to the Yukon Party’s Elaine Taylor.

“A clear choice was offered to voters and they chose in decisive numbers,” he said.

“The only people who get what they deserve in an election are the voters.

“We now have a very radical government, and a very radical opposition – they probably need each other.”

As the election results rolled in, more than one losing candidate opted to head home and crack open some scotch.

“I’ve had a bottle of scotch sitting on my shelf for the last five months,” said Mountainview Liberal candidate David Sloan, who lost to Pasloski.

But it wasn’t only Liberals who were cracking into the hard stuff.

Riverdale South Yukon Party candidate Glenn Hart, who dropped by the Liberal gathering to pay his respects, also planned to pour a tumbler.

“Then I’ll sit and figure out what to do next,” said the former Health Minister, who lost to the NDP’s Jan Stick.

It’s was a pleasure to serve in the assembly, said Mitchell, as the night wound down.

“And no one serves forever.

“We’ve been down before, and risen back up – and we’ll do so again,” he said.

The Mitchells have a saying: “We’re not very lucky, but we’ve sure been fortunate,” he said.

“We don’t win the lottery, and sometimes we don’t win elections.

“But I’ve won the biggest prize I could ever have – my wife.

“At times like this I know what’s really important, and what’s important to me is that I have the love of the woman I’ve loved all my life and the woman I intend to love for the rest of my life.

“And because of that, I can do anything.”

Mitchell’s not sure what he’ll do next.

But on Wednesday he already had his work cut out for him.

Mitchell was heading to the Old Fire Hall to volunteer at Whitehorse Connects, a day when service providers offer the homeless and those living in poverty everything from haircuts and massages to counselling services, immunizations, internet access, live music, and hot food.

Contact Genesee Keevil at

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

Just Posted

An avalanche warning sigh along the South Klondike Highway. Local avalanche safety instructors say interest in courses has risen during the pandemic as more Yukoners explore socially distanced outdoor activities. (Tom Patrick/Yukon News file)
Backcountry busy: COVID-19 has Yukoners heading for the hills

Stable conditions for avalanches have provided a grace period for backcountry newcomers

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

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. (
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