The rain started falling in Whitehorse the moment Premier Dennis Fentie announced a general election for the territory on October 10, 2006.
“This afternoon I will be visiting the commissioner to ask her to dissolve the 31st legislative assembly of the Yukon,” Fentie told a chamber of commerce luncheon Friday.
Polling day will be Tuesday October 10, he told more than 100 business and political leaders gathered in a conference room at the High Country Inn.
“I felt it appropriate that I announce that here amongst the business community, who have so much to contribute.”
The comment was greeted by applause.
And, as the 2006 election campaign began, the skies outside opened up in a sudden downpour. Fentie waited in the hotel lobby for the rain to subside before heading to the commissioner’s office.
Speculation about the election call has been rampant in recent weeks.
The whole affair has been complicated by the medical absence of NDP leader Todd Hardy, who is receiving chemotherapy in a Vancouver Hospital, and mandatory municipal elections across the territory slated for October 19.
Fentie planned to announce the election to the Yukon business community.
“It’s very appropriate for me to make this announcement in front of the business community of this territory, who elected us and supported us in 2002 to turn this economy around,” he told a news conference.
“The decision has been made. Yukon is going to the polls.
“We had to go on or before November 4th.
“All the information that I could sit down and go over and deliberate on to make the decision, I’ve gone through.
“The decision is, today.”
He’s not concerned about overlap with municipal elections.
“It’s not an issue for Yukoners. Yukoners are much more politically astute to know the difference between a municipal election and a general election in this territory.”
Fentie visited Hardy in Vancouver on August 25 to assess his condition.
“The reason I went to visit Mr. Hardy was to help me make that informed decision,” said Fentie.
“Considering his very difficult health situation, there is absolutely no guarantee that if we waited until November 4th that Mr. Hardy would be able to conduct a campaign
“The decision that he makes in regard to this will be his alone.
“Our decision was made in the public interest.”
Hardy was meeting with his doctors when Fentie called the election.
“I would be fooling myself if I said I wasn’t disappointed in Mr. Fentie,” Hardy said Friday.
“Normally I would have another 20-some days of treatment, which would take us up to whatever time.
“But I think there was probably a lot of pressure on Mr. Fentie from his own party, and other people, to pull the plug and go for it.
“The political pressure, to a certain extent, probably outweighed the compassionate side.
“This is not a criticism; it’s his call.”
Hardy learned Thursday that his leukemia is in complete remission.
“The doctors informed me that they cannot find any leukemia cells in my body right now,” he said.
“I’m going to ask them to start the next stage of treatment as fast as possible, and see if there’s anything I can do in the Yukon, and be up there to lead the NDP into at least the more important part of the campaign.”
The Yukon Liberal Party is prepared for the election under its new slogan: ‘Putting people first.’
“I think it all comes down to ethics and integrity,” said leader Arthur Mitchell.
“I personally believe that honesty and integrity and high ethical standards are the most important things a government can offer its citizens.
“As premier, I would put higher ethical standards at the top my priority list.”
All three parties have campaign headquarters.
None of the parties has a full slate of candidates yet.
The Yukon Party has identified candidates in 16 ridings, the Liberal Party in 13 and the NDP in 12.
Constitutions between parties differ in their methods of choosing candidates, but any and all candidates, including independents, have until September 18 to submit $200 and 25 signatures from their targeted ridings to returning officers of the Yukon’s 18 electoral districts.
With files from Tim Querengesser.