Conservative voters in the Yukon aren’t usually worried about vote-splitting, but due to a last-minute switch of candidates, there’s a choice to be made this year. Barbara Dunlop replaced Jonas Smith as Conservative candidate on Aug. 17, days after the Liberals called an election.
Judging by comments on social media, the decision didn’t sit well with everyone.
Regardless, with an endorsement from former premier Darrell Pasloski, Dunlop is hoping voters stay true blue.
“I’ve been amazed by the number of people that have come forward and the amount of time people are willing to spend helping with a campaign, that’s been really humbling and gratifying,” she said.
Dunlop recently retired as a director within the government’s department of economic development. She was also the Yukon Film Commissioner, in addition to being a commercially successful romance novelist.
When she found out that Smith had been dropped from the party, she put her name forward.
Dunlop said the top issue at the door has been housing, whether in Whitehorse or the communities.
In the Conservative platform, the party has promised to address housing shortages by building one million homes over three years, launching an Indigenous housing strategy and converting 15 per cent of federal government property into housing. A plan to tweak mortgages and insurance requirements, and restrict foreign investment, is also meant to increase affordability.
Dunlop said mental health is another major issue in the campaign, particularly in the North and for veterans. She said both access to care and infrastructure needs to be improved outside of Whitehorse, including high-speed internet and clean energy.
“We’ve all enjoyed the blackouts together. So we know that we can’t put a whole bunch more on our grid without improving it,” she said.
The Conservative platform includes a National Clean Energy Strategy to expand power grids and develop “new clean energy technology such as nuclear, hydrogen and renewables.”
While less ambitious than the Liberals, NDP and Green platforms, the Conservatives also have a plan for combating climate change. The platform includes the goal of hitting the Paris climate commitments of 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.
The Conservatives also want to modify carbon pricing. Instead of rebates, funds would be directed to “personal low carbon savings accounts” to be used by individual consumers for the purchase of green products.
She also said the Conservative Party is ready to follow First Nations’ lead on issues around reconciliation, including moving the dial on the territory’s three nations that do not have a final agreement.
Outside of those big policy issues, the Conservative platform promises to double the northern living allowance. It’s a cash promise and one Dunlop says reflects “the rising cost of living in the North.”
“We’ve actually heard people say, ‘Well, I’m voting for you for that issue alone. So it’s clearly been quite popular,’” she said.
On vote splitting, Dunlop maintains that with the Liberals and Conservatives battling it out in the polls and a majority government unlikely, it means every seat counts in this election.
“I think the important thing to understand is that it’s either going to be the Liberal Party or the Conservative Party forming the government. We’ve heard at the doorstep that people are looking for a change in government. So the only option for a change in government is the Conservative Party taking government in Ottawa. The only way for Yukoners to support that is to vote Conservative,” she said.
- Meet the candidates: the Liberal’s Brendan Hanley
- Meet the candidates: the Green Party’s Lenore Morris
- Meet the candidates: Independent Jonas Smith
- Meet the candidates: the NDP’s Lisa Vollans-Leduc
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