UPDATE: After the Yukon News went to press, the Stephen Harper government fell in a vote of nonconfidence. The Prime Minister will visit Governor-General David Johnston on Saturday morning to request a federal election.
Even before Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff tabled his vote of nonconfidence this morning, Sue Edelman was setting up Yukon’s main federal election office.
Every returning officer in the country, for all 308 ridings, was told to start setting up, said the Yukon’s federal returning officer on Thursday.
“The writ hasn’t been dropped yet but we were told to set up shop,” said Edelman. “I believe we are the very first one.”
With two looming confidence votes, it seems likely the Harper government will fall.
It certainly seems so as the posters go up and the room fills at Whitehorse’s Wood Street polling station.
Opposition parties on the Hill made it clear this week that they don’t support the conservative government’s proposed budget, and MPs in the Yukon and Northwest Territories said it was insufficient for the North.
So far, no Conservative candidates have been announced in the northwest.
NDP MP Dennis Bevington and Liberal MP Larry Bagnell have both stated they will be seeking re-election in their territories for their third and fourth terms, respectively.
Bevington will be campaigning against Liberal and former Northwest Territories premier Joe Handley, while Green Party candidate John Streicker has announced he will be campaigning against Bagnell here at home.
Conservative party members in the Yukon have set a nomination meeting for this Saturday. So far, Ryan Leef and Gerrard Fleming have expressed interest. The NDP are also expected to have a candidate announced for the territory soon.
While neither Bevington nor Bagnell has yet to hear if they will face a Conservative candidate, it appears Nunavut will retain its Tory blue.
Conservative MP Leona Agulkkaq has announced she will be running again for the northeastern seat. To date, she has no registered opponents.
Currently, polls suggest that if an election does occur, the Conservatives could win a majority in the house.
As soon as an election is triggered, the Wood Street office in Whitehorse will start accepting special and early ballots, as well as questions and volunteers.
“We will be open seven days a week and we need people,” said Edelman, noting that there will be lots of paid positions.
“We’ll work to your schedule,” she said. “There is a lot of work to be done.”
New residential areas and the Yukon’s constantly changing population has added to the list, she said.
The shelved coolers lining the back wall in the former Three Beans natural foods store will be used as filing cabinets, said Edelman with a laugh.
Yukon residents are encouraged to visit the office if the information on their voter ID cards is incorrect, or if the cards don’t show up, she said.
Offices at the college in Dawson City and at the community hall in Watson Lake will be opened for four hours, seven days a week, once the writ is dropped.
The Wood Street station will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday. And the office telephone, at 335-4831, can start receiving calls as soon as the writ is dropped, said Edelman.