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Tie vote for Vuntut Gwitchin may not be resolved for weeks

A recount is planned
NDP candidate Annie Blake, left, and Liberal incumbent Pauline Frost. (Submitted photos)

A perfect tie in the territory’s least-populated riding has stalled election results.

Liberal incumbent Pauline Frost and NDP candidate Annie Blake both received 78 votes in Vuntut Gwitchin on April 12.

Combined with the overall seat count — currently eight for the Liberals and eight for the Yukon Party – means the status of a minority Liberal government is in limbo until a recount can take place. The validation recount will be completed by April 15. After that, the most likely scenario is that the riding will move to a judicial recount.

That official recount should be completed by April 19. If it turns out no ballots were miscounted and a perfect tie is reported, Yukon regulations mean the final outcome will be decided by a random draw.

Win or lose, Sandy Silver will remain premier if he can secure support for his minority government, but it is likely the NDP will hold decision-making power because the Liberals won’t have enough votes on their own to pass legislation.

Reached on Tuesday afternoon, Blake said she was surprised by the results and is at peace with either outcome.

“We were so shocked to see that it was a tie. It was just something that we weren’t expecting. It’s a lot to take in and it’s pretty exciting. It’s my first time running in a territorial election,” she said.

“With the potential of having the recount and the potential to have our names being drawn from a hat, I wish all the best to Pauline and I hope the best for myself. I know that moving forward, I’ll be okay with what the results may be. It would be great if I could be elected, but I also know that there’s a chance that I won’t be and I’m okay with that,” she said.

Frost, who under the previous government held the major cabinet portfolios of environment, health and housing, said following the results she is spending time in the community during a culture camp.

“Thank you Old Crow for all your support. Words cannot describe the sincere gratitude and honour I have for each of you who stood by my side the last four years, and continue to trust in me no matter the outcome,” she said in a statement.

“I have absolutely no regrets and wish the community and citizens a brighter future. The community will be thriving over the next decade with all the projects that we have brought here, while I served as the Minister of [Health and Social Services], Housing and Environment,” she said. “Mahsi Sha Gwitchin Kat, stay strong, be humble and kind to one another.”

Races in the northern riding are notoriously tight. In 2016, Frost won the vote by only seven votes over the incumbent Yukon Party candidate Darius Elias.

A tie vote is also not unheard of in the riding. In 1996 the results were tied at 69 votes each for Esau Schafer and Robert Bruce. Bruce won the riding when his name was pulled from a hat. A Supreme Court order in 1997 overturned the results. Bruce won the ensuing by-election by the majority of votes.

Contact Haley Ritchie at