Brad Cathers and Linda Benoit have been defeated by Currie Dixon in their effort to win the Yukon Party leadership race.
“Congratulations to my friend Currie Dixon on his election as the new leader, and to my friend Linda Benoit on her campaign,” Cathers said in a statement.
“Thank you to everyone who supported me in the Yukon Party leadership election! Together, we came just 35 votes short of the 50-per-cent mark in the final round.”
The 42-year-old Lake Laberge MLA was unavailable to the Star for an interview before press time this afternoon.
Cathers was narrowly defeated, with 682 votes in the final round of the ballot, just 70 votes fewer than Dixon’s winning 752.
“I am honoured by your support for me, and my vision for the Yukon,” Cathers said in his statement.
“I look forward to working with Currie and Linda as part of a strong Yukon Party team.”
MLAs Scott Kent and Wade Istchenko endorsed Dixon for the leadership. The remaining Yukon Party MLAs did not publicly state a choice.
Dixon did not win a majority in the first round of the election ballot, so the final numbers came from the members’ second choices.
The final numbers were tallied based on the second choice of voters who listed Benoit as their first choice.
This was the first time a Yukon Party election has been decided by second-choice votes, Cathers said.
Benoit, 38, was similarly unavailable for an interview this morning.
In a statement posted Saturday night, she offered congratulations to Dixon.
“He will make a great Yukon Party leader, and I’m happy to put my support behind him as we work together to ensure a Yukon Party victory in the next election,” Benoit said.
“Thank you so much to everyone who has supported me over the past months; I couldn’t have come this far without you.”
Stacey Hassard has acted as interim leader of the Yukon Party since 2016. He was the longest-running interim leader of any political party when he passed the torch to Dixon on Saturday.
Dixon told the Star this morning that he found Hassard to be an exemplar of leadership.
“Stacey has done an incredible job of holding the Liberal government to account; it’s certainly a lot more than he thought he was committing to back in 2016,” Dixon said.
“I’ve certainly learned a lot from him, and I’m going to be working with him closely going forward with the Yukon Party caucus.”
In his end of interim speech on Saturday, Hassard said he is looking forward to spending time with family after his time at the Yukon Party’s helm.
“Today marks a sad and a happy day for me,” Hassard said.
“I have truly enjoyed my time as interim leader for this fantastic team in the Yukon Party.”
Hassard said he is encouraged to see the high voter turnout and engagement in this leadership election. More than 60 per cent of the party’s membership took to the polls in the first weekend of voting, he said.
He said membership numbers have risen by more than 700 per cent in the last year.
“We now have a record number of members for any leadership contest in Yukon history,” Hassard said.
“Donations are pouring in, and people are already contacting the party to ask how they can run … People are excited; you can feel the excitement.”