Time to pick

Tomorrow evening, Yukon Party members pick a new leader.

Tomorrow evening, Yukon Party members pick a new leader.

And, as two of the three contenders don’t hold a seat in the legislature, the odds seem good Yukon’s next premier will remain unelected until a general election is triggered by this autumn.

That’s unusual. Typically, a government MLA would resign and trigger a byelection to make room for the new leader.

But, because Yukon’s legislature isn’t expected to meet before the next general election, this isn’t necessary. The commissioner can simply swear the new leader in.

“There’s no problem whatsoever,” said Norman Ruff, professor emeritus of political science at the University of Victoria. “None at all.”

There’s no hard rule for when a premier must be elected. “But, in terms of maintaining responsible government, there’s a sense they should get a seat in the legislature as soon as practical,” said Ruff. “Since the legislature isn’t meeting, I don’t see a problem until October.”

Look to British Columbia, where Premier Christy Clark has reigned for nearly two months without a seat in the legislature. She recently won a byelection, but she won’t technically possess a legislative seat for another week, when the writ is returned.

But if the Yukon Party won the next election, but its leader failed to secure a seat, that would be a problem. “That’s when the pressure’s on,” said Ruff. “At that point, they’d need to find someone to resign their seat for them.”

Otherwise, the commissioner could decide to fire the premier. “That would create a bit of a crisis,” said Ruff.

But that remote scenario is probably far from the minds of most Yukon Party members, who are currently preoccupied with the three-way leadership race that ends Saturday.

Voters are being asked whether they want to grow the party or stay the course. Supporters of Rod Taylor, a 51-year-old dog musher and businessman, argue their candidate would be their best bet to lure away centrist voters from the Liberals.

But true-blue conservatives have rallied behind Darrell Pasloski, a 50-year-old pharmacist who carried the Conservative banner during the 2008 federal election. They maintain Pasloski has a cozy relationship with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and that his politics have remained consistent – unlike Taylor, who once considered running as a Liberal.

The establishment is split behind these two candidates.

Pasloski is backed by Lake Laberge MLA Brad Cathers, Health Minister Glenn Hart, Justice Minister Marian Horne and Craig Tuton, a longtime Yukon Party campaign organizer.

Taylor has won the support of Tourism Minister Elaine Taylor, Community Services Minister Archie Lang, Environment Minister John Edzerza and Speaker Ted Staffen.

Jim Kenyon is also in the race, but he hasn’t secured any prominent endorsements. Before the leadership race, the 64-year-old veterinarian was responsible for the Department of Economic Development and the liquor, lottery and housing corporations.

But, shortly after declaring his leadership aspirations, Kenyon was sacked by Premier Dennis Fentie, he says, for criticizing the premier’s heavy-handed leadership style and affirming that Fentie had tried to sell-off Yukon Energy’s assets, contrary to claims otherwise.

Kenyon caused the biggest commotion of all three candidates by disclosing that Fentie has sat on more than $17.5 million in federal affordable housing money, allegedly to help bolster the territory’s savings account. Kenyon has promised to put the money to good use if elected.

Taylor has offered the boldest ideas. Among them is a plan to connect the Yukon to British Columbia’s energy grid – a scheme that would cost upwards of $1 billion.

But he’s also attracted the most criticism. Not long ago, as head of the Tourism Industry Association of the Yukon, Taylor slammed the government for showing “contempt” towards planning to protect the Peel Watershed. He’s since eaten those words and now avows he never wanted to see an area “the size of Scotland turned into a park.”

The Yukon Party’s membership list grew fivefold during the race, to 1,509 eligible voters.

Polls open from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. at the Mt. McIntyre Recreation Centre. Members from outside Whitehorse can phone in their ballots by calling 867-456-3167.

It’s one member, one vote.

Doors to the leadership reception open at 7:30 p.m. at the Gold Rush Inn’s Townhall. Ballots are expected to be counted between 8:30 p.m. and 9 p.m.

A report on who won will be posted to www.yukon-news.com later that evening. Or follow us on Twitter, @yukon_news.

Contact John Thompson at

johnt@yukon-news.com.

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

Just Posted

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Are they coming?

One of COVID-19’s big economic questions is whether it will prompt a… Continue reading

Yukon MP Larry Bagnell, along with Yukon health and education delegates, announce a new medical research initiative via a Zoom conference on Jan. 21. (Screen shot)
New medical research unit at Yukon University launched

The SPOR SUPPORT Unit will implement patient-first research practices

Yukon First Nation Education Directorate members Bill Bennett, community engagement coordinator and Mobile Therapeutic Unit team lead, left, and Katherine Alexander, director of policy and analytics, speak to the News about the Mobile Therapeutic Unit that will provide education and health support to students in the communities. (yfned.ca)
Mobile Therapeutic Unit will bring education, health support to Indigenous rural students

The mobile unit will begin travelling to communities in the coming weeks

Premier Sandy Silver, left, and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley, speak during a live stream in Whitehorse on January 20, about the new swish and gargle COVID-19 tests. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Swish and spit COVID-19 test now available in Yukon

Vaccination efforts continue in Whitehorse and smaller communities in the territory

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment in Faro photgraphed in 2016. Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old building currently accommodating officers. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Faro RCMP tagged for new detachment

Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old… Continue reading

In a Jan. 18 announcement, the Yukon government said the shingles vaccine is now being publicly funded for Yukoners between age 65 and 70, while the HPV vaccine program has been expanded to all Yukoners up to and including age 26. (1213rf.com)
Changes made to shingles, HPV vaccine programs

Pharmacists in the Yukon can now provide the shingles vaccine and the… Continue reading

Parking attendant Const. Ouellet puts a parking ticket on the windshield of a vehicle in downtown Whitehorse on Dec. 6, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is hoping to write of nearly $300,000 in outstanding fees, bylaw fines and court fees, $20,225 of which is attributed to parking fines issued to non-Yukon license plates. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City of Whitehorse could write off nearly $300,000

The City of Whitehorse could write off $294,345 in outstanding fees, bylaw… Continue reading

Grants available to address gender-based violence

Organizations could receive up to $200,000

In this illustration, artist-journalist Charles Fripp reveals the human side of tragedy on the Stikine trail to the Klondike in 1898. A man chases his partner around the tent with an axe, while a third man follows, attempting to intervene. (The Daily Graphic/July 27, 1898)
History Hunter: Charles Fripp — gold rush artist

The Alaskan coastal town of Wrangell was ill-equipped for the tide of… Continue reading

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. While Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis is now setting his sights on the upcoming territorial election, other members of council are still pondering their election plans for the coming year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillors undecided on election plans

Municipal vote set for Oct. 21

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

A look at decicions made by Whitehorse city council this week.

A file photo of grizzly bear along the highway outside Dawson City. Yukon conservation officers euthanized a grizzly bear Jan. 15 that was originally sighted near Braeburn. (Alistair Maitland/Yukon News file)
Male grizzly euthanized near Braeburn

Yukon conservation officers have euthanized a grizzly bear that was originally sighted… Continue reading

Most Read