Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Battle for the Yukon


The Yukon Territory has a total population of just over 30,000 people, and holds the distinction of being the LEAST religious riding in the country, with about half of its residents identifying themselves as "religious". The political scene in the territory is, to put it mildly, highly malleable - the Liberals are right-wing, the Yukon Party (formerly the PC's) are in the middle, and the conservative leader was first elected as a member of the NDP. Yeah... my head hurts, too. Federally, the riding has elected representatives from all 3 main parties, including former Deputy PM (under Mulroney) Erik Nielsen (brother of actor Leslie, of Naked Gun fame), and NDP leader Audrey McLaughlin. Liberal Larry Bagnell is the incumbent here, having held the seat since 2000. In 2006, he won the seat by 3,500 votes over the 2nd-place Conservative candidate.

There are currently 3 registered candidates in the Yukon:

Larry Bagnell (Lib) - Larry Bagnell has served as the MP for this riding for the past 8 years, having narrowly won it (by a margin of 70 votes) in 2000. He's a very popular figure in Whitehorse, as the perception is that unlike most politicians, he has actually achieved measurable results for the riding with the awarding of the Canada Winter Games in 2007 and the associated investments in infrastructure, including the huge Canada Games Centre. The former executive with Industry Canada knows how the political game is played in the Yukon, and it will be tough going for anyone trying to dislodge him... when Yukoners decide they like their elected officials, they tend to keep them around - Erik Nielsen represented the riding for 30 years.

Darrell Pasloski (CPC) - Pasloski is a popular pharmacist and entrepreneur in Whitehorse. The father of 4 is heavily involved in community sports - as you might expect from someone with kids who play just about every sport from swimming to horseshoe pitching (STILL waiting for that to be an Olympic event...). While he'll be in tough against a popular incumbent, Darrell stands to benefit from the Harper Government's pro-Northern policies and from his own gregarious nature. In a riding where the firmness of a candidate's handshake and whether they look you in the eye still matter, Pasloski's political destiny is in his own hands.

John Streicker (Grn) - Streiker is a lecturer at Yukon College who has devoted much of his energies to the study of climate change. He may be the only holder of a Master's degree in Engineering who runs a community centre, doing so in his home community of Marsh Lake. He's a quilter, an artist, and a long-shot (the Greens have never broken 600 votes in this riding)... but then, if there are ANY ridings in this country that can see, first-hand, the effects of climate change on a day-to-day basis, surely it's the ridings in the North. Let's be honest, here, folks: Nobody moves to the Yukon for the thriving night-life or the fast pace of life in Whitehorse. It's the environment, and the people. It's a common value held by most of the people who live in the territory. And THAT is a recipe for success, if the Greens can figure out how to translate it into results at the polling booth.

Take a look at: Darrel Pasloski. He may be a political neophyte, but he's well-liked, and running for a party that has been focusing on the North. Adding to the "perfect storm" politically is the fact that Larry Bagnell, popular as he is, is running for the party of the Green Shift, in a riding where most people have to heat their homes with oil-burning furnaces - 10 or more months each year (that'd be one of those "bad things" Dion wants to tax). Making people feel valued is a good way to get elected, and the Tories have been doing that to the people of the North for the past 3 years - let's see if it pays off for Darrell.

No comments: