At Green Party headquarters, supporters crowded around a small, flickering television as if it was a campfire. A nearby computer screen displayed an electoral map of Canada.
Like a pair of ungloved hands in a Yukon winter, it gradually turned bluer and bluer.
A Green Party election surveyor came in and excitedly reported that when she left the Yukon Inn polling station, Green Party candidate John Streicker’s results were running less than 10 points behind Conservative Darrell Pasloski’s — and in some cases they were nearly tied.
The final results were stunning.
Streicker received 1,880 votes — 13 per cent of the Yukon electorate. He had pulled ahead of NDP candidate Ken Bolton and nearly quadrupled the party’s 2006 results, when bike shop owner Philippe LeBlond had garnered only 559 votes.
Streicker pointed out that his results are “solid” because every single vote he got was for the Green Party, rather than a strategic vote for or against a Conservative candidate.
With rumours that Green Leader Elizabeth May supported strategic voting in the waning days of the campaign, Streicker renewed his opposition to the practice. The “strategic voting issue” has been a frequent media question for the Green candidate.
“Strategic voting will only lead to a second-best government,” he said.
As for the new Conservative minority government, he wouldn’t oppose them if they actually had an “agenda to conserve,” as their name implies.
“But I‘m not getting any of that from this Conservative government,” said Streicker.
“Canadians, as a whole, don’t really see what’s going on with respect to food security, climate change, Environment Canada and our scientists being muzzled from speaking to the media directly,” said Streicker.
“Come on, what we’re doing is heading towards boom-bust as a country.”
Near 8 p.m., Streicker called for quiet and stepped onto his official Green Party soapbox.
“I wanted to acknowledge one special young person who has been helping out throughout the campaign,” said Streicker.
“I have heard him personally going around to the general public and saying ‘Vote Green!’ and he has the most enjoyable ‘woot! woot!’ when vehicles honk their horns,” he said.
A small boy ascended to the soapbox, gracefully accepted his “young man of action” certificate, and launched into a stirring rendition of Elton John’s Rocketman.
Hanging on the wall was the headquarters’ newest addition: the “frustration pounder,” a kinetic sculpture in which small mesh steel platforms moved in a circle, occasionally having their surfaces pounded by a mechanical hammer.
The idea is to write frustrations on a piece of paper and clip it to a platform, ensuring that the frustration would be struck by the hammer every couple of minutes.
As election night went into the wee hours, “first-past-the-post electoral system,” “negative campaigning,” and “power outages” got the beating of their lives.
Neighbours of Streicker headquarters soon had their hopes of sleep dashed, as dual turntables lit up with the funky stylings of Herbie Hancock.
“Hit it!” commanded Streicker.
Rhythmic help came from a clacking sewing machine in the corner as artist Meshell Melvin drew portraits of Green Party supporters using only squares of linen and green thread.
Later, Streicker mounted the soapbox again, thanked supporters, reminisced about the campaign and took time to jokingly paraphrase Quebec politician Rene Levesque’s address following the failed 1980 Quebec referendum; “a la prochaine fois.”
For Greens across the country, the election was a slight disappointment — many thought this was the election that would see a Green Party candidate elected to the House of Commons.
Still, a job well done, explained Andre Gagne, the official headquarters deejay.
The Green’s role is to elevate political discourse, and they did it, he said.
“They’re the most detached from political games because they have nothing to lose — so they call things a little bit more straight sometimes,” he said.
“The vote that we got today was a strong start, I hope that it gives us something to take the agenda forward,” said Streicker.
Right around 11 p.m., cheers greeted Larry Bagnell, the last of Streicker’s three opponents to drop by.
“One of the big losers this election was Stephen Harper,” said Bagnell on his way out, referring to the Conservative government’s inability to achieve a majority in the House of Commons.
When the Liberals lost to the Conservatives in 2006, Liberal leader Paul Martin immediately stepped down.
With another loss, and another Liberal opposition, what’s to become of Liberal Leader Stephane Dion?
The Liberal’s poor showing was due to a communication breakdown, explained Bagnell as Led Zeppelin’s song of the same name played in the background.
“We had a leader with integrity and intelligence, and a very sophisticated and smart platform — but a lot of Canadians didn’t know about it,” said Bagnell.
“They didn’t understand the Green Shift, they didn’t understand all the good things in our platform and we didn’t do a good job of getting that across,” he said.
A cache of retro roller skates was opened up near midnight, and Green Party campaigners were soon zooming perilously around the tiny headquarters.
The Who’s Won’t Get Fooled Again hit the turntable.
“Meet the new boss, same as the old boss,” screamed Roger Daltrey on the 1971 recording.
Streicker, the first third-place Green Party candidate in Yukon history, dipped down on the dance floor for a momentary air guitar solo.