Yukon Party revs up for downtown byelection

The Yukon Party will pick its Whitehorse Centre candidate on November 10, raising the possibility of either a byelection, or territorial election, in the near future. The riding's seat has been empty since Todd Hardy succumbed to cancer in late July.

The Yukon Party will pick its Whitehorse Centre candidate on November 10, raising the possibility of either a byelection, or territorial election, in the near future.

The riding’s seat has been empty since Todd Hardy succumbed to cancer in late July. By late September, both opposition parties, expecting a byelection before the autumn sitting of the legislature, had nominated candidates: the Liberals put forward Kirk Cameron, while the NDP formally anointed its unelected leader Elizabeth Hanson.

But the byelection never happened. Instead, Fentie recalled the legislature a month earlier than usual.

This miffs both opposition parties, who lament how downtown residents lack representation in the legislature. But Whitehorse Centre residents get ample attention from the government, said Fentie, citing waterfront and affordable housing projects being built in the riding.

He’s in no rush to hold a vote. There are still 180 days before he must call a byelection. The NDP wants this duration cut in half, to 90 days, with a change to the Elections Act that will be debated Wednesday.

The Yukon Party’s slowness to pick a candidate suggests, to the Liberals, that the governing party is having trouble finding a credible candidate.

“No, I wouldn’t say that’s the issue at all,” said president Carel Alexander.

Why, then, is the Yukon Party only picking a candidate now? “That decision’s made by the premier,” said Alexander, “so you’d have to ask him.”

Premier Dennis Fentie declined an interview request.

Whitehorse lawyer Graham Lang has been touted as a possible contender. But he has no plans to pursue the nomination, he told the News.

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