Premier Darrell Pasloski announced his resignation as Yukon Party leader after he was forced out of his Mountainview riding Monday.
“I want to just start by saying Yukoners have spoken,” Pasloski said in opening remarks shortly after arriving at at the Best Western Gold Rush Inn, where a hearty crowd of the party faithful had gathered for election night.
“It is certainly not the outcome that we wanted, but we all know voters are never wrong.”
The party leader thanked all the candidates for running what he described as a remarkable campaign.
The six Yukon Party MLAs elected to office will serve Yukoners well over the next five years as the official Opposition, Pasloski assured the room.
He said in the wake of the party’s defeat, in the wake of his third-place finish, it was time to leave.
“That’s why tonight I am tendering my resignation as leader of the Yukon Party,” the 55-year-old Pasloski told the gathering.
“In the coming days, I will sit down with caucus and the party executive to sort out the timing and the next steps.
“The Yukon Party is made of remarkable individuals, and I look forward to the next wave of leaders who will come forward to lead our party.”
The race in Mountainview was so tight there will be an automatic recount by a justice of the Yukon Supreme Court because there were 10 or fewer votes separating first and second places. Either way, Pasloski is out.
Liberal candidate Jeanie Dendys won the riding with 439 votes, just six ahead of NDP candidate Shaunagh Stikeman and 40 ahead of the 399 votes cast for the premier.
A sitting Yukon premier hasn’t lost his or her seat since the NDP’s Piers McDonald lost his Whitehorse riding to the Liberals’ Wayne Jim in 1996.
The night at the Gold Rush started slowly, as is typical of election night at what everybody hopes will turn into a festive gala.
More and more Yukon Party supporters kept arriving after the polls closed at 8 p.m. The mood among the crowd never reached the crescendo seen in 2002, 2006, 2011.
Nobody was hanging his or her head. There just wasn’t that same bounce in their step.
Glenn and Kathy Ford were there early, mingling.
“We are friends with Darrell,” said Kathy. “We have known Darrell since he came to the Yukon, and we have faith in him.”
Glenn pointed out the couple helped the premier go door-to door.
“I think they did a good job in this mandate that they just had and I think they will continue to do a good job.”
Grade 8 twins Simon and Joshua Lauer were something of an anomaly amongst the older crowd, but they watched intently as results were being flashed up, having just participated in the Student Vote initiative in Yukon schools.
The right to vote is a privilege that should be exercised, said Simon, noting he had no intention of revealing how he voted at school.
“Our dad (Michael Lauer) is running Mr. Pasloski’s campaign,” he pointed out. “We have known him for a very long time. He is a really close friend ... and we have the same birthday, Nov. 2.”
There wasn’t much for supporters to cheer about as it became more and more evident the Yukon Party would be swept out of office, though the party did still hang on to seven seats.
Each victory was applauded as it was flashed on the screen.
Some 20 minutes before 10:00, a distinct pall washed over the gathering as confirmation circulated about Pasloski’s defeat to the rookie Liberal.
Senator Dan Lang, a longtime Yukon Conservative who served several terms in the legislative assembly beginning in the 1970s, said the Yukon Party acquitted itself well in this election, and hung on to its core vote.
“The NDP support collapsed and it went over the Liberals,” Lang said. “I think it was also the case that there was a bit of a hangover from the federal election, to a certain degree.”
Yukon Party Justice Minister Brad Cathers – returned to his fourth consecutive term in Lake Laberge by a large margin – offered no analysis of his party’s defeat.
He said he had mixed feelings, having been returned to another term but disappointed to see his colleagues lose their seats.
“I’m going to take some time to look at the results before making any statement.”
Similar sentiments were expressed by Energy, Mines and Resources Minister Scott Kent, who was also returned to his fourth term in the legislature – the first two as a Liberal in 2000 and 2002.
“The voters are always right, and obviously they have spoken tonight,” he said.
Asked about the possibility of serving as interim leader to replace Pasloski, both Cathers and Kent quickly shut down any attempt to discuss the matter.
As the party faithful awaited Pasloski’s arrival at the Gold Rush Inn, and even after he tendered his resignation, there were no tears. The premier moved among supporters, shaking hands, hugging, as were others.
It was as though there was a quiet acceptance of the decision by voters to move in a new direction after 14 straight years of Yukon Party rule.
Flanked during his address by his wife, Tammie, on one side and his daughters Bronwyn and Erin on the other, Pasloski praised the efforts of all who ran for a seat, and the efforts of all who gave their time and energy to support the candidates.
“Thanks to every single one of you.”
The premier thanked his family, particularly his wife. There is nothing harder on a family than having a loved one in politics, he said.
“To all of the families of all of the candidates from all of the parties, thank you very much....
“We would have rather been celebrating a victory tonight but that does not mean we can’t be proud of what we accomplished,” Pasloski said.
“In the days and weeks ahead, our party will evaluate the election, what worked, what didn’t and how to ensure we are ready to take over government in five years.
“For tonight, let’s celebrate the wins we got.”