NDP criticizes floor crossing

The NDP wants to end party switching in the territory. The call comes in the wake of Darius Elias's move to the Yukon Party. The MLA for Vuntut Gwitchin had been sitting as an independent, and before that was the interim leader of the Liberal Party.

The NDP wants to end party switching in the territory.

The call comes in the wake of Darius Elias’s move to the Yukon Party.

The MLA for Vuntut Gwitchin had been sitting as an independent, and before that was the interim leader of the Liberal Party.

The NDP will introduce a bill in the fall that, if passed, would require MLAs to step down and run in a byelection if they would like to join a new party.

“It’s a matter of respect for the voters,” said Official Opposition NDP Leader Liz Hanson.

“If a MLA really believes that their constituents would approve of them crossing the floor, they should not be afraid of running in a byelection.”

Hanson and fellow NDP MLA Kevin Barr met with residents of Old Crow Tuesday.

The meeting fell the day after Elias met with constituents for the first time since joining the Yukon Party.

The timing was a coincidence, said Hanson.

She and Barr both attended Elias’s Monday meeting, on invitation from Elias.

Elias was invited to attend the NDP meeting, but had to return to Whitehorse early Tuesday.

Although some of the approximately 30 residents who showed up to Elias’s meeting expressed concern with his move to the Yukon Party, none called for him to step down and run in a byelection, confirmed both Elias and Hanson in interviews following the meeting.

It also was not a topic of conversation at the Tuesday meeting hosted by the NDP, said Hanson.

When asked if Elias should stand in a byelection, given that his constituents do not appear to be demanding one, Hanson did not directly answer the question.

Old Crow is a small community, and they deal with issues in non-confrontational ways, she said.

Still, on principle, the NDP believes that all MLAs wishing to join a new party should stand in an election, added Hanson.

Party switching has a long history in parliamentary politics.

And the NDP, both territorially and federally, has called for an end to it in recent years.

Former Yukon NDP Leader Todd Hardy called for the change in 2006.

Federally, several NDP bills have been brought to the House of Commons on the issue.

But politicians on all sides tend to switch perspectives on the issue as easily they switch parties, depending on their own interests.

In February, MP Claude Patry left the NDP for the Bloc Quebecois. He did not stand for re-election, despite having voted for a bill a little over a year earlier that would have forced him to do so, had it passed.

And in June, after MP Brent Rathgeber quit the Conservative caucus, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s director of communications tweeted that Rathgeber should have to stand for byelection. This contradicted Conservative MPs who voted unanimously against a bill that would require exactly that, arguing that floor crossing is a valuable parliamentary tradition.

But the way it is is not the way it has always been.

As David Gussow points out in an article for Canadian Parliamentary Review, from Confederation until 1931, MPs who crossed the floor would have to stand for byelection if they accepted some sort of financial reward for the switch, including a cabinet position.

He argues for a return to the old system, where accepting a paid position in exchange for crossing the floor is considered a conflict of interest.

In his estimation, a person in Darius Elias’s circumstance should not have to stand for byelection unless and until he accepts a cabinet position.

No such offer has been made to date, said Elias.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at


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

Just Posted

A proposed Official Community Plan amendment would designate a 56.3-hectare piece of land in Whistle Bend currently designated as green space, as urban residential use. Whitehorse city council will vote on the second reading of the Official Community Plan amendment on Dec. 7. (Courtesy City of Whitehorse)
Future area of Whistle Bend considered by council

Members set to vote on second reading for OCP change

The City of Whitehorse’s projected deficit could be $100,000 more than originally predicted earlier this year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City deficit could be just over $640,000 this year

Third quarter financial reports presented to council

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley speaks during a COVID-19 press conference in Whitehorse on Oct. 30. Masks became mandatory in the Yukon for anyone five years old and older as of Dec. 1 while in public spaces. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
As mask law comes into effect, premier says $500 fines will be last resort

The territory currently has 17 active cases of COVID-19

Crystal Schick/Yukon News file
Ranj Pillai, minister of economic development, during a press conference on April 1.
Government rejects ATAC mining road proposal north of Keno City

Concerns from the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyäk Dun were cited as the main reason for the decision


Wyatt’s World for Dec. 2, 2020

The new Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation council elected Dec. 1. (Submitted)
Little Salmon Carmacks elects new chief, council

Nicole Tom elected chief of Little Salmon Carcmacks First Nation

Submitted/Yukon News file
Yukon RCMP’s Historical Case Unit is seeking information related to the unsolved homicide of Allan Donald Waugh, 69, who was found deceased in his house on May 30, 2014.
Yukon RCMP investigating unsolved Allan Waugh homicide

Yukon RCMP’s Historical Case Unit is seeking information related to an unsolved… Continue reading

A jogger runs along Millenium Trail as the sun rises over the trees around 11 a.m. in Whitehorse on Dec. 12, 2018. The City of Whitehorse could soon have a new trail plan in place to serve as a guide in managing the more than 233 kilometres of trails the city manages. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
2020 trail plan comes forward

Policies and bylaws would look at e-mobility devices

Snow-making machines are pushed and pulled uphill at Mount Sima in 2015. The ski hill will be converting snow-making to electric power with more than $5 million in funding from the territorial and federal governments. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Mount Sima funded to cut diesel reliance

Mount Sima ski hill is converting its snowmaking to electric power with… Continue reading

Colin McDowell, the director of land management for the Yukon government, pulls lottery tickets at random during a Whistle Bend property lottery in Whitehorse on Sept. 9, 2019. A large amount of lots are becoming available via lottery in Whistle Bend as the neighbourhood enters phase five of development. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Lottery for more than 250 new Whistle Bend lots planned for January 2021

Eight commercial lots are being tendered in additional to residential plots

The Government of Yukon Main Administration Building in Whitehorse on Aug. 21. The Canada Border Services Agency announced Nov. 26 that they have laid charges against six people, including one Government of Yukon employee, connected to immigration fraud that involved forged Yukon government documents. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Charges laid in immigration fraud scheme, warrant out for former Yukon government employee

Permanent residency applications were submitted with fake Yukon government documents

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Mask fundraiser helps make children’s wishes come true

From Black Press Media + BraveFace – adult, youth and kid masks support Make-A-Wish Foundation

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Most Read