Mirroring the federal election, the Yukon elevated the New Democrats to the Official Opposition from a small, third party on Tuesday night.
And of the six-person NDP caucus, four are women.
“I’m pleased, really pleased, to be the leader of the Official Opposition,” said Liz (Landslide) Hanson, who, once again, won her riding of Whitehorse Centre, beating her combined opposition by more than 200 votes.
Former city councillor Jan Stick was the second successful candidate, taking Riverdale South.
The third female candidate to officially join the opposition caucus was returning politician Lois Moorcroft.
She won the new riding of Copperbelt South by just three votes.
“Elections are won and lost in the Yukon by as little as two votes,” she said after her election was announced. “I’m sure there’ll be a recount, but I know how carefully election workers do their jobs so I’m hopeful that I have, indeed, won the seat.”
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The vote in her riding is before the Supreme Court, awaiting a recount.
But it was the youngest woman to join the NDP Opposition who garnered most of the attention.
Surrounded by a tight circle of crying supporters, Kate White screamed out to the man filling out the votes for each riding on orange placards posted on the wall.
He filled in every single number – except for her results – as she pulled at her hair anxiously, her eyes welling up.
The room of more than 100 people erupted when he finally filled in the final two boxes on the poster, confirming White had, in fact, won Takhini-Kopper King.
Immediately embraced in hugs two to three people deep, White uttered her first words as an elected official: “Oh my God, now what?”
After the hugs were over, White regained her composure and faced local media.
“We’re going to do an amazing job,” White said of the new Opposition. “We’re going to make sure that they don’t get away with anything. So we’re not government right now, but we will be government.”
Kevin Barr and Jim Tredger round out the new NDP caucus.
Barr was elected in Mount Lorne-Southern Lakes, which is composed of a substantial portion of Steve Cardiff’s old riding.
Tredger, a former principal and the last candidate to join the NDP’s roster, just six days after the writ was dropped, took the Mayo-Tatchun riding.
Northern Yukon is represented by Liberals and New Democrats, mirroring the two opposition parties’ pro-protection approach to the Peel Watershed.
And, because of that, Moorcroft delivered a warning amid all the cheering and smiling.
“I think there was a really clear choice for the voters in the Yukon and I’m very disappointed that we are seeing a majority Yukon Party government,” she said. “We, as the NDP, have been saying that we believe in those land claim agreements, and what they mean for the future of the territory and for respecting First Nation governments.
“We have not seen the Yukon Party respecting First Nation governments, and that makes me feel very discouraged for the future of the Yukon.”
Of the 13 ridings the NDP did not win, the party was first runner-up in seven.
Hanson is confident the party can hold the Yukon Party’s feet to the fire on issues like the Peel and housing in the coming years.
“A new, official NDP opposition will hold the government to account,” said Hanson. “We didn’t raise these issues idly. We believe in them and we expect this government to respond in a respectful way. In our behaviour, as a two-member NDP caucus, we believe that you can ask questions in a respectful way to get respectful answers.
“I am hoping to God they are not going to take their lead on how the legislature runs from the old gang who were totally dismissive of the fact that we are elected to represent all Yukoners, not just whatever party we represent.”
Addressing the crowd, and calling her family and all candidates up to the stage with her, Hanson mentioned how sorry she was that both Todd Hardy and Steve Cardiff were not standing among them.
She ended her speech with a quote from another fallen NDP leader, Jack Layton.
“Love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic,” she said to roaring applause, adding: “And we will change the world – we’ll start with the Yukon.”
Contact Roxanne Stasyszyn at firstname.lastname@example.org