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Digging for grassroots issues

Running for office is hard work anywhere, but campaigning in the Yukon may be hardest of all. The territory's tiny population is spread over a vast area, and the campaign trail leading to the voters is sometimes 60 below. The voters can be as unforgiving as the climate, with wildly divergent interests and fickle party allegiances. From the introduction of political parties in 1978 to responsible government and stumping by computer, CBC Archives looks at elections in the land of the midnight sun.

Electioneering in the Yukon tends to focus on economic promises, party platforms and blaming the feds. But there are many other issues that are important to Yukoners which don't seem to make the news - or the campaign speeches. What about the environment, women's issues, farming and local employment? With three days to go before the polls open, CBC-TV's Ken McGillvery asks Yukon residents what's important to them.
• In the 1996 Yukon general election, the New Democratic Party took back the territory from John Ostashek's Yukon Party. The government had seen a decline in popularity resulting from increased taxes and reduced services, and lasted just one term.
• The NDP captured 11 seats to just three for the Yukon Party and three for the Liberals. NDP leader Piers McDonald became premier of the territory.

• Since the Kondike Gold Rush of the 1890s, the Yukon's economy has been dependent on the mining of gold, lead, zinc, copper and asbestos. But today, the government is by far the largest employer in the territory, employing about 40 per cent of the workforce. Tourism is the second biggest industry. Other industries include manufacturing, hydroelectricity, trapping and fishing.

• About 12,500 hectares of land in the Yukon are devoted to agriculture (just 125 square kilometres of the territory's 482,443). Most of the agricultural land is located near Whitehorse and a handful of other communities. About half of the developed land is used for crops (including cereal grains, hay, potatoes, vegetables and berries), with the rest used for pasture or grazing. Residents can apply to the government for farm land.
(Source: Yukon Department of Energy, Mines and Resources)

• As of August 2006, the employment rate it the Yukon was lower than the Canadian average, with 4.9 per cent looking for work in January 2005 compared to 6.5 per cent in the rest of Canada.
Medium: Television
Program: CBC Television News
Broadcast Date: Sept. 24, 1996
Guest(s): Mike Blumenshein, Carolyn Moore, Joel Radwanski
Reporter: Ken McGillvery
Duration: 7:50

Last updated: January 23, 2012

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

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