Inside the courtroom in Whitehorse, Chief Electoral Officer Max Harvey, Vuntut Gwitchin returning officer Renee Charlie and Supreme Court Judge Suzanne Duncan open the box containing the names of the tied candidates. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)

Annie Blake elected as MLA for Vuntut Gwitchin after name draw

ā€œIā€™m still feeling shocked that my name was drawn, I feel overwhelmed.ā€

Annie Blake has been named MLA for Vuntut Gwitchin after her name was pulled from a box in a random draw for the position on April 19.

Supreme Justice Suzanne Duncan oversaw a judicial recount for the riding on Monday. After a deliberation of around 90 minutes, Duncan found the result a 78-78 vote tie between candidates Pauline Frost and Annie Blake.

Following the recount, Vuntut Gwitchin returning officer Renee Charlie drew a name from a box inside courthouse five.

The results confirmed Annie Blake will represent Vuntut Gwitchin in the legislature.

“I feel overwhelmed,” Blake said, with her daughter and husband standing beside her outside the courthouse. “I’m just really looking forward to working with the community to move forward.”

Newly elected MLA Annie Blake. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)

“I’m still feeling shocked that my name was drawn, I feel overwhelmed. I’m a bit lost for words right now. But I’ve also just took a moment to thank my ancestors and those that came before me and broke the trail for our people to be able to hold this space in government.

“Much thanks to Pauline Frost for the work she’s done in her role as MLA and I just hope that I’m able to continue with the momentum that’s been set for our people.”

Blake said she will work hard to represent both those who voted for her and the other half of the community.

After speaking with media, the newly elected MLA was rushed by fellow NDP members Kate White and Emily Tredger, with cheering and a group hug. Her victory will bring the NDP up to a total of three seats, and shift the balance of power inside the House away from the Liberals.

All three NDP MLAs appeared elated by the win. White did not speak to reporters.

The standing in the legislature is now eight seats for the Yukon Party, eight seats for the Liberals and three for the NDP. If the Liberals put forward a speaker, that will mean their regular voting membership is reduced to seven.

As incumbent premier, Sandy Silver will be courting opposition parties in order to stabilize his minority government.

Liberal candidate Pauline Frost, who held three prominent cabinet positions in the previous Liberal government, was also supported by family outside the courthouse.

She thanked her family and community for support over the past four years.

Former MLA Pauline Frost speaks to media. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)

“I feel really good, actually. I feel really great about the process, I think we’ve followed the Elections Act to the T on my team,” she said. “The process today played out as it is supposed to play out.”

Despite that, Frost said her team is planning to review the election process to make sure nothing went awry prior to the name draw.

In 1996 — the last time the riding was decided by a draw — the results were eventually overturned by a judge. Asked if there is a possibility of a legal challenge, Frost said it remains to be seen.

“Clearly we will review the process, review the elections and how it all played out,” she said. “When you have an election that close, you always want to look at the checks and balances. So I would say that, perhaps that will happen, but I do want to say that today a process unfolded as it should and as it’s structured, and I’m okay with that. What happens around the corner? We will get to that crossroads when we get there.“

Contact Haley Ritchie at haley.ritchie@yukon-news.com

Election 2021