Archives

From 1978: Yukon voters see party-affiliated candidates on the ballot

Forty years ago, Yukon voters had something new to consider on their ballots — the political parties their territorial candidates were affiliated with.

Tories won first-ever Yukon election that was fought along party lines

Yukon voters elected a PC government in 1978. 1:05
Forty years ago, Yukon voters had something new to consider on their ballots — the political parties their territorial candidates were affiliated with.

And when they voted on Nov. 20, 1978, the Progressive Conservatives became the first party to form government in what was then the Yukon territorial council.

But as Colin Hoath reported on CBC's The National, the switch to party-affiliated candidates wasn't the only change voters expected to see with the new government and in the years to come.

"The fact that one party — the Conservatives — will control 11 of the 16 seats in the expanded territorial council, will give this body new power," Hoath told viewers.

"Firstly, it will mean that they can dictate the appointment and the policies of the executive committee members."

Hoath also said the territorial council "should emerge as something of a counterbalancing force to the unchallenged power of the federally appointed commissioner."

Tories win, but leader loses seat

The PCs won the 1978 Yukon election, but their leader, Hilda Watson, lost her seat. 0:28

The Tories moved forward, however, their leader, Hilda Watson, did not have a seat in the territorial council.

That's because Watson lost her seat on election night. She would resign the following month, with Chris Pearson then taking the reins of the party. Pearson would subsequently become Yukon's first-ever premier.

Four decades have passed since the Tories won that election and Yukon voters have seen 10 further elections follow it.

Since the 1978 election, the Yukon Party (the same party that Watson and Pearson led, but which is now known by its current name) has since formed government on five occasions, the Liberals have done so twice and the New Democrats have led the Yukon government on three occasions.

Today, Yukon's Legislative Assembly has 19 elected members. Liberal Sandy Silver is the territory's ninth and current premier.