While a Liberal minority is a distinct possibility, Yukoners may not know who will form a government until next week due to a tie vote in Vuntut Gwitchin.
After an extremely tight race between the Yukon Party and the Liberal Party, final polls returned their votes just before 11 p.m. on Monday. At the end of the night, both the Yukon Party had eight seats secured and the Liberals also had eight seats secured.
A validation recount in Vuntut Gwitchin is expected to be completed by Thursday, according to Elections Yukon. Following that result, assuming the race is still less than 10 votes difference, an application for a judicial recount will be filed automatically.
From April 15, following the validation recount, a judge will have four days to issue a final recount.
In the case of a perfect tie following those results, the winner of the riding has historically been chosen by random chance in a lot draw.
The final seat count for the three parties at the end of the night on April 12 was eight for the Liberals, eight for the Yukon Party and two for the NDP.
|Geraldine Van Bibber, Brad Cathers, Currie Dixon and Scott Kent (from left) won four of eight Yukon Party seats on April 12. Van Bibber, Cathers and Kent were all incumbent candidates. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)|
“Until we know the result of Old Crow this is kind of a hard speech to be making,” said Sandy Silver, sounding subdued outside his campaign headquarters in Dawson City.
“That recount will be happening in earnest, but I want to say to the volunteers in every riding, thank you. Without you, democracy just would not happen,” he said.
The Liberal Party did not host an election party. Each candidate gathered within their bubbles at various locations.
Seven incumbent Liberal candidates kept their seats.
Sandy Silver maintained the Klondike riding by a wide margin with 526 votes.
Mount Lorne’s John Streicker, Mountanview’s Jeanie McLean, Porter Creek South’s Ranj Pillai, Riverdale North’s Nils Clarke, Riverdale South’s Tracy McPhee and Whitehorse West’s Richard Mostyn all kept their seats by less than 100 votes.
Jeremy Harper was the lone new Liberal candidate to win a seat with 238 votes in Mayo-Tatchun over the NDP’s Patty Wallingham’s 208 votes.
Yukon Party incumbents will return to legislature
In Whitehorse, Yukon Party Currie Dixon thanked the families of candidates for their support and thanked voters for coming out.
“There is a bit of uncertainty remaining,” said Dixon. “Despite the overwhelming support we received from Yukoners, and the fact that close to 40 per cent of Yukoners voted for the Yukon Party, the seat count did not go in our favour.”
“Until we see the results of that tie break, we will have to remain interested in the final outcome. It’s a very difficult situation to determine what the outcome will be,” he said.
A few Yukon Party candidates and campaign staff gathered at the party’s election night headquarters downtown on April 12. For much of the night, the room was nearly silent — all eyes locked on the crushingly close race unfolding on the big screen.
In spite of the close races, many of the Yukon Party’s long-time incumbent candidates won their seats back handily.
Scott Kent will serve his fourth term as an MLA, winning Copperbelt South with 726 votes — more than 400 votes ahead of the competing candidates.
Wade Istchenko will serve a third term with a 352-vote victory winning him Kluane by more than 100 votes. Stacey Hassard will keep Pelly Nisutlin for a third term with a 362-vote win, about 100 votes ahead of NDP candidate George Bahm. Patti McLeod will keep Watson Lake for a third term with 313 votes over Liberal Amanda Brown’s 237.
Geraldine Van Bibber handily won Porter Creek North with 562 votes, earning her a second term with a win of 231 votes. “I’m over the moon, tired, happy, it’s a wonderful place to be,” Van Bibber said after her win. “You know, people don’t understand how hard it is to go out and expose yourself, but my constituents are just the best part of the great north.”
Brad Cathers will also keep Lake Laberge for a fifth term with 799 votes, winning by 540.
“I’m very grateful to my constituents for their continued support,” Cathers said. “We’ll see what happens with the Old Crow situation, and until that dust is settled we won’t know for certain what the outcome is, but whatever role we’re serving in, I will continue to do my best on behalf of my constituents and all Yukoners.”
Both Van Bibber and Cathers said they’re pleased to be working with fellow incumbent candidates in a new term.
“They are the reason I threw my name in again, because they are just an amazing group of dedicated community workers,” Van Bibber said.
|NDP Leader Kate White discusses the election results with CBC at NDP election night headquarters on April 12. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)|
NDP holds power balance, lauds working together
“There are so many hugs and high fives that I’d like to give tonight,” said NDP leader Kate White as final riding results came in, sounding slightly disappointed by the lack of seats gained but thanking all voters for coming out.
“Even though these results were not what we hoped for, so many people came out for the NDP,” she said. “Yukoners have also said that no party would have a majority tonight. Yukoners have told us what we have to do is work together to get things done.”
White spoke at the NDP election night headquarters at the Guild Hall in Porter Creek.
The small gathering was limited to media and about three campaign staff through most of the evening due to the pandemic with the exception of White and Whitehorse Centre MLA-elect Emily Dredger, who arrived shortly after it was clear she had taken the riding.
Tredger told reporters she’s excited to begin her work as an MLA (see seperate story on Tredger’s win, p. 2).
It was later in the evening that White arrived and gave her speech, emphasizing the need for the parties to work together as uncertainty continues over the Vuntut Gwitchin riding.
Speaking to reporters following her speech, White said her values and commitment to those in the territory will continue to guide her through the next term of office.
“I’ve never stopped working for Yukoners,” she said.
At separate times, both Tredger and White highlighted housing as the top issue during the campaign. The issue is one that also dominated the 2011 and 2016 campaigns and needs to be addressed, White said.
“No one put forward the ideas we did,” White said, stressing the need for a cap on rent as the party had proposed among other measures.
The two MLAs-elect also cited dental and pharmacare as major issues voters brought up during the campaign, with White also noting there were many concerns over the opioid crisis and the need for a safe supply in the territory. Tredger also pointed to mental health, adding many voters told her they want to see the walk-in mental health clinic that the party proposed as part of its 81-page platform.
With a minority government, the NDP as the third party could hold the balance of power in the legislature.
Both MLAs-elect had strong results in their ridings with White receiving 63 per cent of the vote with 763 ballots cast in her favour compared to 244 ballots (20 per cent) for her closest competitor Morgan Yuill of the Yukon Party. Liberal candidate Raj Murugaiyan had 198 ballots cast in his favour for 16 per cent of the vote in Takhini-Kopper King.
Meanwhile, Tredger walked away with 47 per cent of the vote, or 498 ballots in her favour with Liberal Dan Curtis taking 29 per cent with 312 votes. Finally, Yukon Party candidate Eileen Melnychuk had 24 per cent of the vote with 249 votes in her favour.
With files from Stephanie Waddell and Gabrielle Plonka.
Contact Haley Ritchie at firstname.lastname@example.org