Yukoners “sleep around” in politics

The red tide has washed over the Yukon — again. In a steamroller victory, Liberal MP Larry Bagnell won almost half of all the votes cast in…

The red tide has washed over the Yukon — again.

In a steamroller victory, Liberal MP Larry Bagnell won almost half of all the votes cast in the Yukon. At final count, Bagnell captured 48.5 per cent of the popular vote.

This is a bigger Liberal victory than the one posted in 2004. Back then, 45.5 per cent of eligible voters backed Bagnell.

This time, Bagnell also won 63 of 73 polling stations in the Yukon.

Of the 10 polling stations that did not vote Liberal, two were ties.

In Stewart Crossing, Bagnell tied with Conservative candidate Sue Greetham, each with six votes.

At one Whitehorse polling station, New Democrat Pam Boyde pulled 57 votes, the same as Bagnell.

The Yukon was not entirely without enthusiasm for the Conservative Party, however.

Greetham made gains during the eight-week campaign.

The party raised its portion of the popular vote to 23.7 per cent, up from 20.9 per cent in 2004.

Greetham took Beaver Creek, Destruction Bay, Champagne and Johnson’s Crossing. She also took one station in Takhini and one in Watson Lake.

Perhaps the most impressive territorial gain was the near-obliteration of the margin between Conservatives and NDP votes.

The gap between the parties shrank by hundreds of votes in this election.

In the end, the NDP pulled only 25 votes more than the NDP.

This is a substantial drop from the 406 ballots that separated the two parties in 2004.

Boyde’s vote tally increased this year. She captured 151 more ballots than she did last time. However, her share of the total vote fell.

She pulled 23.9 per cent of the vote, compared to 25.6 per cent in 2004.

While the political tapestry hasn’t changed in the Yukon, the colours have shifted across the country.

Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party captured 36.3 per cent of the national vote, enough to form a minority government.

This is a substantial increase from the 29.6 per cent Conservatives won in 2004.

The Conservative victory also broke 12 years of Liberal rule.

Outgoing Prime minister Paul Martin led a Liberal minority government in 2004, pulling 36.7 per cent of the popular vote.

The party lost more than six per cent of its support, pulling only 30.2 per cent of the popular vote in Monday’s election.

While the NDP didn’t rocket forward in the territory, it made gains nationally under the leadership of Jack Layton.

The party picked up 10 seats in Parliament’s next sitting, increasing its caucus to 29 members from 19.

Quebec has undergone a dramatic political shift as well.

The Conservatives had no members in the province in 2004. It now has 10.

During Monday’s election, the Conservative Party almost tripled its percentage of the vote in Quebec, pulling in 24.6 per cent, up from 8.8 in 2004.

While many swing votes came from the Liberals, who fell from 33.9 to 20.7 per cent, the Bloc also took a hit.

Quebec’s separatist party held 48.9 per cent of ballots in the previous election, however, support dropped to 42.1 per cent this week.

Despite dire predictions that a Christmas election would see an all-time low voter turnout, more Yukoners and Canadians went to the polls than in 2004.

Nationally 64.9 per cent of eligible voters cast ballots, up from 60.9 in the last election.

This means 14,815,680 of 22,812,683 Canadians had their say in federal politics on Monday.

Locally, 66.6 per cent of Yukon cast ballots, a jump up from 61.8 in 2004.

The Yukon had 66 rejected ballots on election day, and a total of 92 including advanced polls.

This is close to double the 50 ballots that could not be counted in the last election.

What are the implications of the federal election for the Yukon?

One expert says it won’t likely make a big difference.

“You guys have slept around politically,” said Nelson Wiseman, a political science professor at the University of Toronto.

He noted Yukoners have voted for MPs in ruling parties in the past, like Progressive Conservative deputy Prime minister Erik Nielsen, and for MPs with very few seats, like former NDP party leader Audrey McLaughlin.

Then he told a story.

“Once upon a time, there was a tendency on northerners to go along with whoever the winning party was because they were dependant on federal largess,” he said.

Not so, it would seem, in the Yukon anymore.

While it is always favourable to have an MP in a ruling party, Wiseman said he is not convinced Bagnell’s role with change significantly.

“On the whole, I don’t think it’ll make that much difference,” Wiseman said from his Toronto office.