Ostashek urges Yukon electoral reform

Former Yukon government leader John Ostashek says the territory's current electoral system results in a "benevolent dictatorship."

Former Yukon government leader John Ostashek says the territory is governed by a "benevolent dictatorship" under the current electoral system.

Ostashek, who led a minority Yukon Party government from1992 to 1996, made the comments during a CBC Yukon open line radio show Thursday.

"If you look at the system we have now, that's basically what we have," he said, referring to the 2002 election where the Yukon Party garnered 40 per cent of the popular vote but nearly 70 per cent of the 18 seats.

With MLAs bound to follow party policy, Ostashek said the result is a "dictatorship until there is another election."

Ostashek has been part of a group, Yukon Citizens for Electoral Reform, pushingthe territory to consider a new electoral system that would more accurately reflect the popular vote.

However he does not support returning to the non-party system the Yukon had in the past, in which MLAs are elected as independents.

"I think the solution is a different way of electing our MLAs," Ostashek said. "I don't think you solve the problem by going backwards."

With elections often won or lost by only 200 or 300 votes in the Yukon, it would be better to look at more equitable representation, he said.

The electoral reform group plans to use the Oct. 10 election campaign to push all three political parties to consider a new system.

Shortly after coming to power in 2002, the Yukon Party government hired former commissioner Ken McKinnon to delve into the issue of electoral reform.

McKinnon's $120,000 report concluded Yukoners were not interested in reform but rather legislative renewal.

Ostashek saidencouraging MLAs to be nicer to each other is not the answer given the adversarial nature of the current system.