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Yukon Liberals to elect new leader, premier in January

The party announced the Jan. 28 convention date at its private leadership party
Premier Sandy Silver steps up to the podium in the cabinet office, where he signalled his final day as premier in the Yukon Legislative Assembly on Nov. 24. The Yukon Liberal Party has set the date for its leadership convention to determine who will replace Silver as leader and, in turn, premier. (Dana Hatherly/Yukon News)

The Yukon Liberal Party has locked in a date for its leadership convention.

The next party leader, who will effectively replace Sandy Silver as leader and the Yukon’s premier, will be elected by party members using a preferential ranked ballot in Whitehorse on Jan. 28, 2023.

The party announced the convention date at its private leadership party, which was not open to reporters, on Nov. 25 and issued the information in a press release on Nov. 26.

“Securing the date for the convention and releasing the rules for candidates gives people all the information they need to make the decision to run,” party spokesperson Paolo Gallina said in the release.

“With one candidate already declared, the excitement around this race is building.”

The party put out its leadership race rules last week. Candidate packages are available on the party’s website.

Cabinet minister Ranj Pillai launched his leadership bid on the morning of Nov. 25, after issuing a “Ranj for premier” branded press release in the moments following the end of the fall session of the Yukon Legislative Assembly on Nov. 24.

Silver signalled his final day as premier in the legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting. Silver did not create rules directing his cabinet ministers to vacate their ministerial roles in order to run.

Silver told the News by phone on Nov. 28 the party’s leadership dinner was a reflective time in which he got to give “unsolicited advice” on what worked well and where does the party go from here in a speech that was introduced with a standing ovation.

Silver was first elected to the legislative assembly on Oct. 11, 2011. He has led the party since Aug. 17, 2012.

“In 2016, we had a real groundswell,” he said.

That’s when Silver was re-elected in the general election for the 34th legislative assembly on Nov. 7, 2016.

“There was momentum with federal Liberals, for sure,” he said.

“When [Prime Minister Justin] Trudeau announced even the leadership, you knew that you had an opportunity, even though we’re separate parties, to kind of build momentum on a Liberal platform.”

Fast-forward to the 2021 territorial election, when Silver said the party had two options: calling a spring or a fall election.

“We went early, because, you know, the rates of COVID-19 were low, we were getting vaccines [and] we had the highest rate of vaccination in the country,” he said.

“But people were upset,” Silver noted, as a result of COVID-19 restrictions and being “cooped up,” which meant figuring out how to move forward.

“The message is: please, don’t ever surround yourself with just like-minded people. To be a lifelong learner, you really have to surround yourself with people that don’t think like you do, and I think that’s in the greater scheme of things as we take a look at democracy in the 21st century and populism.”

The convention date potentially leaves a tight window between determining who leads the territory on Jan. 28, 2023, and the expiration of the Yukon NDP-Liberal confidence and supply agreement on Jan. 31, 2023.

The party’s executive decides on the convention timing. Gallina said there were a number of factors considered in coming up with a convention date, including the NDP-Liberal deal and the starting of the spring sitting of the legislative assembly.

The party’s constitution requires the party’s executive to consult sitting MLAs prior to deciding on a convention date. Gallina said that consultation took place.

Jan. 7 is the deadline for leadership candidates to submit their application package.

In order to vote, people need to be signed up as party members by Jan. 21.

READ MORE: Silver signals final day as premier in the Yukon Legislative Assembly

Contact Dana Hatherly at

Dana Hatherly

About the Author: Dana Hatherly

I’m the legislative reporter for the Yukon News.
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