NDP and Libs hope to tilt Porter Creek left

ELECTION 2006 RIDING PROFILE Traditionally, Porter Creek is a conservative stronghold. That’s small ‘c’ conservative — not…

ELECTION 2006 RIDING PROFILE

Traditionally, Porter Creek is a conservative stronghold.

That’s small ‘c’ conservative — not necessarily the Yukon Party brand, although that party currently holds seats in two of the three Porter Creek political divisions.

Whitehorse’s third-oldest neighbourhood — after downtown and Riverdale — has a large population, three schools, several swaths of greenbelt, and a mix of lower-income families and old Yukon money.

Infill developments here, including on the “lower bench,” have preoccupied political discussions at municipal and territorial levels.

Archie Lang and Jim Kenyon — both Yukon Party ministers — are seeking second terms for Porter Creek Centre and Porter Creek North, respectively.

But the longest tenure of any Porter Creek MLA belongs to Pat Duncan.

Although a Liberal, Duncan is also a self-professed “Red Tory,” and a former member of the federal Progressive Conservative Party under Brian Mulroney.

She held her seat in Porter Creek South for 10 years, from 1996 to present.

But Duncan is not running in the 2006 election, which makes Porter Creek South the only Whitehorse riding without an incumbent, and prime political real estate.

Three candidates are angling for Duncan’s job: Pelly-Nisutlin MLA Dean Hassard, who has moved to Whitehorse and is seeking a second term with the Yukon Party; New Democrat Samson Hartland, a former Whitehorse city councillor; and Don Inverarity, who is carrying Duncan’s torch for the Liberals.

None of them live in the riding.

Despite several attempts to contact him, Hassard never replied to requests for a walkabout in the riding.

But Hartland and Inverarity were willing.

Greenbelts are the biggest issue in Porter Creek South, said Hartland, who counted 550 homes in the riding and visited them all, some more than once.

“That’s what we’re hearing at the door.”

The Yukon Party bred confusion over the fate of some undeveloped forest in the riding along McIntyre Creek.

Three different ministers had three different visions: a park, a residential development or endowment land for Yukon College.

“Leave the greenbelts alone,” a couple of young kids told Hartland.

“We vote leave the greenbelts alone.”

A man at another door said he used to work for Yukon College, and the point was moot because the land belongs to the college.

Despite ministers working at cross-purposes, “I support the Yukon Party,” he told Hartland.

“Other than not liking the leader, they’ve done some good things.

“I have no support at all for NDP policies. They spend us into debt.”

Undaunted, Hartland told the man what he tells everyone: that he won’t make any promises he doesn’t know he can keep, and that he’ll work just as hard as Duncan did, if not harder, to represent the interests of his constituents.

People in Porter Creek usually play their cards much closer to their chests, Hartland said later.

“We’ve heard a little bit of everything.

“I get a burst of energy at every door I go to.

“This is my love. This is my passion.”

Youthful honesty — Hartland is 27-years old — might go some distance to convincing voters on the doorstep.

But will it do enough?

Within 15 minutes of his walkabout, Inverarity had three requests for lawn signs on 9th Avenue.

“I’ve never walked down this street in my life,” said the executive director of the Yukon Entrepreneurship Centre Society.

Someone in the Liberal campaign probably directed Inverarity, a political neophyte, to a Liberal-friendly area.

Regardless, he received a warm reception.

Invoking the names of Duncan and Liberal Yukon MP Larry Bagnell didn’t hurt either.

Of the 12 residents Inverarity visited over the course of an hour, most talked openly about their dissatisfaction with the Yukon Party.

“Build the jail,” said one man.

“Any government can spend money,” said another.

“Fentie’s an idiot,” said a resident who is trying to decide between Inverarity and Hassard.

“F**k a park,” he said. “Green, green, green, great, but it’s not putting any money in our pockets.”

Candidates:

Porter Creek South:

Dean Hassard, YP, current MLA for Pelly-Nisutlin.

Don Inverarity, Liberal, executive director of Yukon Entrepreneurship Centre Society.

Samson Hartland, NDP, former city councillor, sign language instructor.

Porter Creek Centre:

Archie Lang, YP, incumbent, minister of Energy, Mines and Resources.

David Laxton, Liberal, retired Canadian peacekeeper.

Kate White, NDP, baker, manager of Midnight Sun at multiplex.

Porter Creek North:

Jim Kenyon, YP, incumbent, minister of Economic Development.

Dale Cheeseman, Liberal, supervisor at Youth Achievement Centre.

Dave Hobbis, NDP, former president of Yukon Employees’ Union.

How Porter Creek voted in 2002:

Porter Creek South:

Pat Duncan, Lib, 408

Lynn Ogden, YP, 301

Paul Werner, NDP, 80

Percentage of electors who

voted: 83

Porter Creek Centre:

Archie Lang, YP, 399

Scott Kent, Lib, 312

Judi Johnny, NDP, 63

Percentage of electors who

voted: 78

Porter Creek North:

Jim Kenyon, YP, 331

Dave Austin, Lib, 148

Mark Bowers, NDP, 135

Roger Rondeau, Ind., 112

Percentage of electors who

voted: 79

Did you know?

Porter Creek is named for a mysterious prospector named H. E. Porter who spent 12 years scouring south and central Yukon for gold and silver. Porter vanished from the public record in 1912.