Stacey Hassard will be the Yukon Party’s interim leader as it forms the new official Opposition.
The MLA for Pelly-Nisutlin will take over for outgoing premier Darrell Pasloski, who resigned after losing his seat in Mountainview during the territorial election on Nov. 7.
As interim leader, Hassard will not be eligible to run for the permanent leadership.
“I have no aspirations to be the premier,” he said. “But I’m more than happy to step up and fill in where I’m needed.”
The Yukon Party will decide when to choose a permanent leader at its annual general meeting in the spring of 2017.
As interim leader, Hassard said, his job will be to ensure “that the government spends taxpayers’ dollars in a responsible fashion.”
He said the party hasn’t yet picked a shadow cabinet, but carbon pricing, procurement and housing in Ross River are some of the issues he will hold the new Liberal government to account on.
Hassard was first elected in 2011, and is the outgoing minister of economic development and minister responsible for the housing and liquor corporations.
He said the Yukon Party’s morale is good, despite having lost five seats to the Liberals in the election.
“I mean, I think there’s a little bit of shock,” he said. “You never expect to lose, you never want to lose. But I think in reality the election was a lot closer than a lot of people think.”
He pointed out that the Liberals won several ridings by just a handful of votes.
“So it’s not like the Yukon lost complete faith in the Yukon Party,” he said. “We just need to get back to our grassroots core group and make sure that we’re headed in the right direction. We’ve got a few years to rebuild and I’m confident that we will.”
Despite the fact that the Liberals won a majority with just 39 per cent of the popular vote, Hassard said he doesn’t see any reason to change the current voting system.
“I’m certainly not crying in my milk or anything over losing the election,” he said. “People made a decision and we have to live with it.”
He said the six Yukon Party candidates who were elected are “a really good team with plenty of experience.” Geraldine Van Bibber will be the party’s only rookie MLA.
Still, the party is facing some major changes as it moves into Opposition for the first time in 14 years. Hassard said the Yukon Party caucus now has a budget for just three staff, down from about 20 during its time in office.
Ted Laking has been hired as the new chief of staff, replacing Michael Hale.
The Yukon Party caucus will be sworn in at noon on Nov. 29 in the legislative assembly. The NDP swearing-in is scheduled for 11 a.m. on Nov. 25.
The Liberal government will be sworn in on Dec. 3 at 11 a.m., and the cabinet at 2 p.m.
Premier-designate Sandy Silver will take his oath at the Dawson City Museum at noon on Dec. 1.
Contact Maura Forrest at email@example.com